Theaters worried concert may cut auds

NEW YORK — At Wednesday’s City Hall press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters that the NFL’s big kickoff in Times Square Sept. 5 will not decimate Broadway ticket sales that day.

“The theater has been worried,” he said. “It will be a minor inconvenience at worst. It will be a boon to Broadway and Off Broadway.”

The theater community has been in a tizzy since the mayor and the NFL announced July 30 that Bon Jovi and other rock bands would hold a five-hour concert on Broadway’s turf to mark the countdown to the NFL season’s kickoff between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants at Giants Stadium.

Broadway had expected a rough first two weeks in September due to the Sept. 11 anniversary and the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana (Sept. 6 and 7) and Yom Kippur (Sept. 15 and 16). But then New Year’s Eve-size crowds were promised, not in the middle of the night but during rush hour on Sept. 5.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue joined the mayor at the press conference. He estimated the media value to the city at $100 million in national TV and radio coverage.

Performers for the event include Bon Jovi, DJ Skribble, Eve, Alicia Keys and Enrique Iglesias. Also skedded is a 20-minute fashion show.

As for the square’s immediate residents, at least two producers requesting anonymity told Daily Variety that their shows would boycott the event.

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘boycott,’ ” said Jed Bernstein, president of the League of American Theaters and Producers. The NFL did ask the Broadway trade org for its participation. “As a group, we decided not to take advantage of the publicity,” said Bernstein. “Some producers may participate, but we did not want to create a track record of these events, which can be disruptive to the theater.”

Tim Tomkins, president of Times Square BID credited meetings between the league and the mayor’s office with narrowing the window of the event. Originally skedded for five hours, the event now runs from 4:30-8 p.m. Broadway curtains will be pushed back half an hour to go up at 8:30.

At the press conference, Bloomberg was dismissive of the effect on box office that day. “The only inconvenience is getting to hotels, restaurants or the theater, and a police officer will be there to help you,” he offered.

“New York is the place to stage big events!” he enthused.

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