WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington is getting ready to vote on a multi-million-dollar contract with Live Nation Worldwide Inc. to manage an entertainment venue which will be in the North Riverfront Park. Although the city has yet to even approve a design for the venue, Amy Beatty, director of community services, said that by granting the contract to Live Nation will allow the company to help design the venue and build it to industry standards.
According to the City of Wilmington City Council’s agenda, a performance venue was identified in the 2016 Wilmington Parks Bond as a program in the master plan, which was adopted in 2017. Three companies submitted proposals to the City of Wilmington, with one being disqualified for missing a deadline, according to the documents.
Live Nation was eventually selected by city staff, and the company submitted two different contract options. The first would be a two-year plan with a 10-year option. The second is a 10-year plan with a 10-year option. For both options, the city would receive $200,000 annually in rent as well as $2 per ticket sold. Live Nation would provide a $2 million initial in-kind investment for furniture, fixtures, and equipment, as well as a $700,000 worth of in-kind maintenance expenditures during the length of the contract. City staff recommended the 10-year option.
Beatty said the 10-year option was chosen because it accommodated Live Nation’s desire to book shows 2-3 years out. She also said the 10-year plan was more “lucrative” for the city. She also said they had been told by local promoters, as well as the City of Nashville, that having an operator getting involved at the design phase was important.
What do local leaders think?
City Council members offered their opinions on the contract Monday morning.
“I’m surprised to see we’re contracting a promoter when we don’t even have a design yet …it seems like the cart ahead of the horse,” City Councilman Kevin O’Grady said.
Beatty cited design shortcomings at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, including the insufficient power supply – an issue that has forced concert promoters to supply their own generator as a reason to involve the company in the design plans.
O’Grady also expressed concern over the number of events. Beatty said events are tentatively planned for 27 out of 52 weeks, but that more could be arranged.
O’Grady said he was more concerned about reserving time for residents of Wilmington to enjoy the park: “It’s a park, it’s for the people, they should have a chance to enjoy it, there should be some weekends without an event.”
“The city has already contracted with a nationally known landscape architecture firm to design the 6.6-acre park. A construction management firm has also been selected. All of these entities will be involved in the design of the park, with construction and development funded by the parks bond approved by voters in 2016. By involving all of these services in the design process, the city expects to streamline development and construction. Design is underway now and the park is expected to open in fall 2019,” Communications Manager Malissa Talbert said.
Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.email@example.com