CONCERTS AT the Pier Six pavilion are worth more than the price of a ticket. Patrons get to see top musical acts while protected from the elements under a giant tent in a cosmopolitan setting. The city gets diverse audiences, from Johnny Cash fans to Patti LaBelle lovers, who come downtown not just to listen to the music but also to see the sights and probably spend some money in restaurants and shops.
This should be a formula that works to everyone's advantage. It hasn't, but that doesn't mean it won't. Some changes may have to be made. After two seasons under management by the Baltimore Office of Promotions, Pier Six is still struggling to reduce a $300,000 deficit incurred last year. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke says the debt has him thinking about hiring a private manager for the facility.
An overhaul of the giant tent in 1991 created a debt that its former manager, the Baltimore Center for Performing Arts, was unable to handle. In 1994, BCPA, which also managed the Mechanic Theater, begged relief. The state agreed to be responsible for $1.9 million in forfeited loan guarantees. The city took over Pier Six, forgave a $600,000 loan it had made and paid off a separate $527,000 bank loan.