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Moncton still hopes to see concerts return to Magnetic Hill

The Magnetic Hill concert site in Moncton has hosted mega-concerts including U2 and the Rolling Stones, however it's only hosted one show since 2015. (CBC - image credit)
The Magnetic Hill concert site in Moncton has hosted mega-concerts including U2 and the Rolling Stones, however it's only hosted one show since 2015. (CBC - image credit)

More than four years after the last show at Moncton's Magnetic Hill concert venue, the head of a committee trying to lure events to the city says "reactivating" the site is a top priority.

"The concert business is different than it was pre-COVID, I would say, but I think certainly reactivating the Hill in some fashion is a primary goal of ours," Bill Whalen, chair of the Events Moncton committee, told city councillors Monday.

Whalen said the committee has talked with city staff about possibilities such as one-off events and festivals for the sprawling site in Moncton's north end.

Shane Porter, Moncton's director of events and venues, says there have been discussions with show promoters but that nothing is real until it is announced.

"It's one of those situations where you work on many, and you're hoping to get some over the line," Porter said in an interview Thursday.

"I can't tell you much more than that, unfortunately, but yeah, there's definitely discussion for this year, next year and beyond."

One show since 2015

There has been only one show at the site over the past nine years.

Country singer Luke Bryan performed there on Aug. 10, 2019. The previous show was AC/DC in 2015.

The site in the city's north end near the Trans-Canada Highway previously hosted a string of major shows that drew tens of thousands of people.

Performers have included The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, the Eagles, U2, Nickleback and Bruce Springsteen.

However, more recent events have taken place in other venues.

Guns N' Roses performed at the Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium on the Université de Moncton grounds in August, the first time that site was used for a concert.

YQM Country Fest drew thousands during outdoor shows in Dieppe last summer.
YQM Country Fest drew thousands during outdoor shows in Dieppe last summer.

YQM Country Fest drew thousands during outdoor shows in Dieppe last summer. (YQM Country Fest/Facebook)

YQM Country Fest has been taking place in Dieppe since 2022, drawing thousands of country fans to the core of that city.

Porter said the stadium show came after years of trying to get a concert at that site.

"The nice part is we've now got proof of concept that it isn't just us wanting to do shows in there," Porter said.

"We've had promoters go in there and they enjoy the experience, the fans enjoy the experience. So we're sitting in a lucky position here in Moncton where we actually have two outdoor venues and many cities don't that are options for concerts."

If we just left it neglected, it would be awful tough to re-engage when it's time to do a show. - Shane Porter

The city spends about $20,000 annually to maintain the Magnetic Hill site, according to city spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc.

Porter said the money is spent on maintaining the site's buildings and cutting the grass so that it doesn't become a hayfield.

"If we just left it neglected, it would be awful tough to re-engage when it's time to do a show," Porter said.

The city budget also includes $50,000 per year on upgrades spent if a show is confirmed.

Asked about the gap in shows from 2015 to 2019, Porter said it comes down to finding a promoter with an available act that is open to the risks that come with outdoor shows, such as the weather.

"We also have to get to a deal that works for everybody," Porter said.

"There's certain costs in operating a show at one of our facilities, and we've got to make sure that we've got a sound deal that works for everybody involved.

"It's not necessarily going to happen every year, but we are certainly out there, and we are certainly not stopping."