The foundation working to build a memorial at the site of a 2003 nightclub fire where 100 people were killed says sales are slow for a major benefit that's due to be held not long after the 10th anniversary of the fire on Feb. 20.
The Station Fire Memorial Foundation aims to raise $1 million to $1.5 million to build and maintain the memorial in perpetuity. The group took a major step in September when it managed to get the private owner of the land to transfer ownership to the foundation. The benefit on March 8, a comedy show at the Providence Performing Arts Center featuring comedian Craig Gass and others, will be the first major fundraiser since then and the group's largest fundraiser to date.
"We're having trouble selling tickets," said Victoria Eagan, vice president of The Station Fire Memorial Foundation. "Sales are light."
Eagan said the group could raise $50,000 to $75,000 at the benefit. But she's concerned about missing that goal because they have sold less than 20 percent of the available 3,000 tickets with fewer than 4 weeks left before the show. That's below the group's expectations and the industry standard for a comedy show featuring national acts, she said.
Tickets are $30 or $40, which Eagan said was a bargain for the acts, who normally command higher prices. Gass is a regular on the Howard Stern Show. Also performing are Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson of VH1 Classic's heavy metal talk show series "That Metal Show" and local comedians. The comedians are all working for free, and the Providence Performing Arts Center is charging the foundation a "bare-bones price" for use of the venue, Eagan said.
The Station Fire Memorial Foundation formed not long after the fire, which happened when pyrotechnics from the rock band Great White ignited flammable foam that lined the walls and ceiling of The Station nightclub in West Warwick. The foundation currently has around $100,000 in the bank, but had not been able to raise large amounts of money in part because it had not secured the site of the land for a permanent memorial, members of the group have said.
Plans for the memorial will be released Sunday, during a public service at the fire site to mark the 10th anniversary of the fire. The permanent memorial will be designed to honor the dead, survivors, first responders and others who helped out in the days and weeks after the fire, and is likely to take more than a year to build once ground breaks, the foundation said.
Much of the work to build the memorial will be donated, as will materials, but the foundation says it will still have to raise significant amounts of money to set up a fund to maintain it. Under the agreement with the land's previous owner, the land will be returned to his family if the plot ever falls into disrepair.
Eagan said the foundation has been in talks with potential corporate donors.
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