Raleigh, N.C. — Two years after it opened, the Raleigh Amphitheater is operating in the red, but officials say the venue still plays an important role downtown.
The 5,000-seat amphitheater, located across the street from the Raleigh Convention Center, has attracted about 100,000 people and generated about $1.1 million in revenue over the past year, assistant director Doug Grissom said Thursday.
Still, the $2.5 million city-owned venue is losing about $100,000 a year, Grissom said, adding that it wouldn't take much for the amphitheater to turn a profit.
"A few concerts could take you over that. Naming rights could take you over that. Different things we're still hoping for, and as the market changes, we'll be able to get that," he said.
Raleigh's contract with promoter LiveNation guarantees at least 12 concerts a year at the amphitheater. The smaller size of the venue makes it more difficult to attract summer acts, Grissom said, but organizers will continue working to add acts to this season's schedule.
State officials scuttled plans to sell the amphitheater's naming rights to Bud Light shortly after it opened. The brewer and local distributor Harris Wholesale had drafted a proposal to name the venue the Bud Light Amphitheater in exchange for $300,000 a year over five years, but the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied an exemption from state liquor advertising regulations.
Even though it's losing money, the amphitheater is an important part of the downtown puzzle, Grissom said.
"I think everybody knows downtown has grown up," he said. "You can come down to an event, but now you go to the restaurant, you go to an event, you go to the bar afterward."
Michael Jones, station manager for WKNC-FM, the student-run radio station at North Carolina State University, said he and other students are eager to see acts like Florence + the Machine, Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket at the amphitheater this fall.
"The phone lines are always blowing up" as students vie for tickets, Jones said.
Grissom said the variety of acts that play the amphitheater, such as The Beach Boys in April to Alice Cooper this Friday, is important to making the venue a success.
"It's sort of on the same track, maybe even a little better for this next year," he said.