Live Oak Bank becomes title sponsor for downtown’s Riverfront Park

The newly constructed 7,200-seat riverwalk amphitheater now has a title sponsor and has been named Live Oak Pavilion at Riverfront Park. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

WILMINGTON — Downtown’s newest outdoor amphitheater is undergoing yet another name change as it readies to launch the first national act, Widespread Panic, to take over the Live Nation-managed venue for three nights this week.

Live Oak Bank has become the title sponsor of Riverfront Park.

RELATED: Riverfront Park vicinity is 800 spaces short for sold-out shows, still ‘plenty of parking’ in walking distance


It will be the third name change for the venue, which started out in its infancy as North Waterfront Park before city council voted to rename it Riverfront Park in April. Wednesday, the venue rolled into yet another identity: Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park.

“We know the value of doing business in this wonderful city, which is why we are proud to put our name on the Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park to support our hometown and play a part in Wilmington’s growth,” Live Oak’s CEO, Chip Mahan, said in a release. “Downtown Wilmington has long been a hub of entrepreneurial activity and we are excited [to] help drive the economic success of the Cape Fear region.”

Live Oak is the number-one lending bank in the nation for the Small Business Administration. In the first quarter of this year, it doled out $1.2 billion in loan and lease originations — $500 million of which were for the Paycheck Protection Program. In February, the bank invested in local nonprofit Cape Fear Collective’s affordable housing initiative, and in May it announced the opening of a small downtown business center to help with business’ capital needs.

The public-private partnership between the City of Wilmington and Live Nation topped out at $38 million to build the park. In return, the residents will enjoy 6.6 acres of public green space every day of the week, which then transforms into a 7,200-seat venue that brings in concerts, comedy and other entertainment on show nights.

The city’s community services director Amy Beatty already hinted at the economic impact Wilmington will feel as Widespread Panic comes to town. She told Port City Daily all hotels across the city sold out within hours of the concert announcement at the beginning of May.

“Ten years ago, City Council set the stage for a park that would be transformative for our community,” Mayor Saffo wrote in a release. “Now, we have Live Oak Bank, a national industry leader based right here in Wilmington, partnering with Live Nation to bring world-class acts to our city. We’re excited for this moment in our history and all the moments that will come from these partnerships and investments.”

It is not immediately clear what kind of financial arrangement is involved, if any, with Live Oak Bank and the city as part of the sponsorship deal.

Live Oak Bank Pavilion 2021 schedule:

  • Widespread Panic – July 16-18
  • GRiZ – July 30-31
  • Miranda Lambert – Aug. 7
  • Train with Vertical Horizon – Aug.10
  • Jim Gaffigan – Aug. 14
  • Harry Connick, Jr. and his Band – Aug. 25
  • 311 with Iration and Iya Terra – Sept. 4
  • Glass Animals – Sept. 5
  • Santana – Sept. 15
  • Trey Anastasio Band – Sept. 24
  • Trevor Noah – Sept. 25
  • Counting Crows with Frank Turner – Sept. 29
  • Lady A with Carly Pearce, Niko Moon, Tenille Arts – Sept. 30
  • Chicago – Oct. 12
  • Brett Eldredge with Morgan Evans – Oct. 14
  • Lake Street Dive with Allison Russell – Oct. 20

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