Local News

New amphitheater puts Moore Square concerts in doubt

Posted June 19, 2010 6:37 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2010 7:07 a.m. EDT

— Concertgoers are of all ages gathered Saturday for the third annual Got to be NC Ag Jam in Moore Square, one of Raleigh’s original public spaces. However, the recent opening of a new 5,000-seat downtown amphitheater has some wondering about the future of Moore Square as a music venue.

Bounded by Hargett, Blount, Martin and Person streets, the four-acre Moore Square hosts several public events, including the Artsplosure festival, concerts, summer movies and a farmers market.

Katy Shea, who manages Irish pub Tir na nOg, said the square's summertime concerts, such as Raleigh Downtown Live, had been great for business.

"We have a great lunch crowd from it in the beginning and then a huge late night," Shea said.

Raleigh now has a deal with concert promoter LiveNation to bring 15 to 20 events each year to the new amphitheater, which is located across McDowell Street from the Raleigh Convention Center.

Officials said they expect the amphitheater to turn a $500,000 annual profit and add to the downtown entertainment scene. With more concerts at the new venue, some business owners located near the square are worried their sales will suffer.

“It's definitely a concern. It was really nice to have the (concert) foot traffic,” Shea said.

Deep South Entertainment owner Dave Rose said the amphitheater will become downtown's concert hub.

“With the opening of the new amphitheater, we are looking at putting a new series in there. But Downtown Live, as it was known in Moore Square, is not going to happen in Moore Square,” said Rose, whose company produces the Downtown Live concert series.

Rose said Moore Square's design is more suited for a city park atmosphere.

“Moore Square became a concert destination, sort of because there was no downtown amphitheater,” he explained.

Because the square wasn't designed as a venue for large events, the heavy traffic has created maintenance problems and some say a rundown look.

The square is slated to get a makeover, however. Chris Counts, of Chris Counts Studio in Charlottesville, Va., was recently selected the winner of the jury-based competition to redesign the square. Officials have said his design combines the tradition of Moore Square with a look forward.

With the $184,000 contract, Counts is developing a master plan to guide the design, development and management of the square. His plan will then be presented to the City Council for approval.

In the meantime, Shea said she hopes people remember that the square is home to a lot of fun activities.

“There's still a lot going on, but the concerts, we'll definitely miss them and we would love to have them back,” she said.