“A game-changer:” City officials reflect on two

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park, Wilmington’s largest concert venue, has been open for two years as of July 2023. Wilmington Community Services Director Amy Beatty says the city is already feeling the economic impacts.

“Live Oak Bank Pavilion has really been a game-changer,” said Beatty. “You know, we knew that there was a market for a venue of this size for music-goers. And Wilmington is just such a music city and we’ve been really astounded by how popular it’s become and that is evidenced by some of the acts that we’re getting.”

Beatty says the venue is not only bringing in visitors and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the city, she says it is also helping to create jobs.

“We had over 110,000 guests in the 2022 season,” she said. “We made over $425,000 in direct revenue to the city. Having Live Nation here, they have created 620 new local jobs in the area from entry level to professional.”

Live Nation manages the venue and books artists through its agreement with the city. Beatty says one challenge that has come with the new venue has been a lack of parking near the site.

“I’d say our biggest challenge has been parking,” Beatty said. “And hopefully with the acquisition of the Thermo Fisher building by the City of Wilmington and the parking garage that comes with that, that will be one less challenge.”

There have also been calls for Live Nation to book a wider variety of artists. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo is pleased with the lineup, but says he would like to see even more diversity.

“[Live Nation] understand[s] that we want to see more diversity of acts,” said Saffo. “I mean, they’ve done a pretty good job in bringing in reggae and hip hop and alternative rock and rock and, of course, country. But you know, we want to see more of that, and that’s one of the things that they have promised us.”

Saffo is hopeful the new agreement allowing Live Nation to book up to 30 shows per year will help to meet everyone’s musical taste.

“A lot of that falls within the artists as to when they come, their schedule, the cost of bringing the artists here,” said Saffo.

Phish is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Both shows are sold-out, according to Live Nation.

Copyright 2023 WECT. All rights reserved.

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