Local News

Raleigh looks to pick up amphitheater for free

Posted May 27, 2008 4:30 p.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2008 7:45 p.m. EDT

— City officials said they hope to combine used infrastructure with a sponsor's money to open an outdoor entertainment venue downtown by the summer of 2009.

Concert promoter Live Nation gave the steel skeleton and fabric covering for a 5,000-seat amphitheater to the city for free in exchange for the option to book about two dozen shows there a year. The city would be able to book a similar number of events there on its own, for a total of about 50 events a year.

"Concerts at Moore Square have been very popular. It's apparent that kind of venue will bring people downtown," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Officials have been eying a vacant parcel at the corner of McDowell and Lenoir streets – across the street from the new downtown convention center – for an entertainment site for months. The site is now used to store equipment and supplies for the convention center construction.

The amphitheater structure was originally built for and operated in Boston. It was later used in Denver, where Live Nation purchased it.

Raleigh would have to pay to lay the foundation for the venue and erect the structure and likely would need to replace the fabric covering. But Meeker said money raised by selling the naming rights to the amphitheater would help offset those costs.

City officials also are trying to sell two $1 million sponsorships for the convention center by next June.

Raleigh resident Ann-Lynn Bailey said she and her children are excited about the prospect of outdoor entertainment downtown.

"We think the amphitheater would be wonderful to bring the kids out," Bailey said. "Culturally it would be really good for them to bring music. It would be really fun to have (the children) come and listen to music."