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Dunedin hoping concerts will be a hit

(ran SS edition of Metro & State)

Faced with the prospect of losing the Blue Jays, Dunedin officials book a series of concerts, mostly classic rock, through the end of the year.

The city has approved a concert series in Dunedin Stadium starting this month to find out whether musical acts can make money in the city-owned venue.

In June, the Florida Orchestra and Lari White performed at the stadium as part of the city centennial celebration.

City officials considered both concerts a success, with turnouts of 1,700 for the orchestra and 2,700 for the country music star in the 6,100-seat stadium.

"We've proven the stadium is a nice venue," City Manager John Lawrence said. "This is a test of whether there's a market. If this catches on, we might try to get some bigger names."

The five-concert series is being staged by The Autumn Group of Palm Harbor. It kicks off Aug. 29 with the Original Doobie Brothers; Marty Balin, former lead singer of Jefferson Airplane and Starship; and Black Oak Arkansas featuring Jim Dandy.

Each concert will feature three performers, although the final lineups for September, October and December are tentative.

"Every month we're doing a whole series, mostly classic rock, but we'll be doing some country," said Paul Curcio of the Autumn Group.

City officials have long wanted to explore whether Dunedin Stadium, the spring training home of the Toronto Blue could be a viable concert site.

The city-owned stadium is used for major-league spring training, minor-league ball during the summer and Oktoberfest in the fall.

Years ago, a deal fell through that was supposed to bring Julio Iglesias to the city, said Leisure Services Director Harry Gross.

"It was embarrassing," Gross said. "A lot of people had bought tickets. People were coming to the stadium and leaving flowers for Julio Iglesias. Since then, we've focused on baseball until the centennial came up and showed we could do concerts."

The city is guaranteed a minimum $1,000 or 10 percent of ticket sales and $500 for stadium cleanup, according to the contract with Autumn.

Also, the city will sell concessions and receive 30 complimentary tickets per concert. Autumn is responsible for all production costs for the shows.

"We're hoping people from all over come," Gross said. "If we have a good turnout, 10 percent of the ticket revenue could be good."

Dunedin Classic Rock Festival

Aug. 29: The Original Doobie Brothers; Marty Balin, former lead singer of Jefferson Airplane and Starship; Black Oak Arkansas featuring Jim Dandy. Show starts 4 p.m., tickets are $25 and $20, available through Ticketmaster, Publix and Spec's Music

Sept. 17: Randy Bachman; possibly Night Ranger; Shadows of Knight

Oct. 2: Howard Parker; possibly John Anderson; and a third star to be announced

Nov. 12: Edgar Winter; Rick Derringer; Pat Travers

Dec. 10: Performers to be announced