Alferio says citycelebrations was forced to move because it couldn't afford an unexpected $32,000 hike in rent and expenses by Richmond Riverfront Corp., which maintains and manages Brown's Island for the city.
James McCarthy, Richmond Riverfront Corp.'s executive director, has said publicly that it was citycelebrations' decision to choose another site. But Alferio and John Woodward, the city's economic development director, say they had no other choice.
A return to Festival Park, where Cheers was held for more than 15 years, wasn't considered, Alferio says, in order to keep the concerts near the river and the Canal Walk.
The concerts at Tredegar are scheduled to end in July. But Cheers is touted as a summer-long series, Woodward says, so truncating the series then would be premature and inopportune.
So Woodward says his office, which is in charge of operating the Farmers' Market, has given the go-ahead for Cheers to be held there, at least in August and possibly into early September.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to try something new," Woodward says, "and the timing is right."
He refers to Aug. 30, which marks the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Gaston, the remnants of which ravaged much of Richmond, most notably Shockoe Bottom. Woodward says he hopes to mark the date with a special Cheers event, thanking the community, businesses and organizations that helped in recovery efforts. By summer's end, he says, places such as Havana '59 and the former City Bar should be open again.
The inaugural hosting of Friday Cheers outside Tredegar May 20 may have been disappointing because of the wet weather, but it wasn't a wash. While Tredegar holds a slightly lighter crowd 3,000 to 6,000 instead of 4,000 to 8,000 it has its benefits. If the after-work concert had been held on the soppier Brown's Island it likely would have been canceled, Alferio says: "The good thing was, we learned we can dry out." Brandon Walters
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