Sunday, May 08, 2016

Coming, a Coney Island theater thanks to public money; Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment selling naming rights and sponsorships

It's coming, the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, another step in the consolidation of venues connected to Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, now owned fully by Mikhail Prokhorof's Onexim. It's located at the far west end of the amusement district, built into and beyond the landmarked Childs Building



The structure, which was by no means finished when I walked around a couple of years ago, will have a preview opening on June 25, with Ziggy Marley, according to its web site, with concerts scheduled through September 21. The grand opening is in July.

These are not the free concerts sponsored by the Borough President's Office, though perhaps those will be moved there. Last year the Seaside Summer Concerts were held in MCU Park a few blocks away.

Who's in charge? Who's paying?

The developer is iStar, and the lease is held by the entertainment company Live Nation, while Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) will sell naming rights and sponsorships, and support the branding and programming.

Would you believe that New York City has put in $60 million, while iStar's investment is not specified, as noted in the 2/15/16 New York Times.

As noted in the 4/10/13 Times, then Borough President Marty Markowitz, the concert impresario, allocated $48 million from his capital budget for this structure, while the city, at least at the time, would put in some $10 million. (Other borough presidents have directed their capital budgets toward frills like affordable housing or libraries.)

Two venues down the block

Also note that a community garden was razed to create the amphitheater. The executive director of a gardener's coalition, Aziz Dehkan told the Times:
“Less than a mile and a half away is a baseball stadium that’s used for half the summer,” he said. “Why don’t they use that? This is one cog in a larger wheel of how they want to redevelop that area where a lot of underserved people live. This is developers wanting beachfront property.”
That's hard to dispute. Surely the new amphitheater will have better acoustics and site lines than the stadium. But the stadium, which has been used for concerts and other events, is host to just 38 home games between June and September.

The press release, from February

INTRODUCING NEW YORK CITY’S NEWEST AND MOST EXCITING OUTDOOR LIVE ENTERTAINMENT VENUE THE AMPHITHEATER AT CONEY ISLAND BOARDWALK OPENING JULY 2016
BROOKLYN (February 16, 2016) – The Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, the cornerstone of the state-of-the-art Seaside Park and Community Arts Center developed by iStar, in partnership with Coney Island USA, will have its grand opening in July 2016 bringing New York City a new outdoor live entertainment venue. The 5,000-seat covered open-air venue -- the first of its kind in the Tri-State area -- will host a mix of concerts, family shows, sports, comedy, and multicultural events, and become the new permanent home of the free Seaside Summer Concert Series.

The Amphitheater is located on Coney Island’s famed boardwalk and incorporates the Childs Building, built in 1923 as one of the first large-format stand-alone restaurants in the country. The building is now designated as a New York City Landmark and is currently undergoing a full restoration after suffering decades of neglect. The stage, which will be housed inside of the Childs Building with 50-foot tall doors opening to the Amphitheater during the summer, will also have the ability to serve the interior of the building during the winter months.

Live Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, will hold a long-term lease to operate the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, including booking and promoting a full summer season of live music, comedy and family entertainment. The venue becomes the latest addition to the diverse Live Nation venue portfolio in the New York area, and will offer music and live entertainment fans even more variety as they head into Summer 2016. Live Nation also operates Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Irving Plaza, PNC Bank Arts Center, NYCB Theater at Westbury & Gramercy Theatre, and holds exclusive booking deals with The Paramount, Wellmont Theatre, Stone Pony and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Legends, which already operates at 36 Live Nation amphitheaters around the country, will provide hospitality services. Locally, Legends currently provides its award-winning hospitality services at Yankee Stadium, One World Observatory, Prudential Center, Circle Line, the Intrepid, PNC Bank Arts Center and Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) will sell naming rights and sponsorships, and support the branding and programming of the beachfront complex. BSE oversees Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets, and the business operations of the New York Islanders, and will manage the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which is currently under renovation. Previous projects for BSE include facilitating the naming rights agreements for Barclays Center, IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ, High Point Solutions Stadium at Rutgers University, and in the coming months, the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

New York City Economic Development Corporation brokered the deal for the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk with iStar Financial and nonprofit Coney Island USA in 2014. The City’s $60 million investment in the project has supported the property acquisition, adaptive reuse of the Childs Building, the development of the Amphitheater, and the creation of 40,000 square feet of publicly-accessible landscaped open space. The development will be environmentally sustainable and is designed to become LEED Silver certified. This project is also targeting local hiring through the City’s HireNYC initiative with 180 construction jobs already created and an anticipated 150-200 part-time seasonal jobs and at least 12-15 full-time staff once the Amphitheater opens.

“Our vision for Coney Island is a neighborhood that preserves the past while building for the future, and that balances a vibrant amusement district with a growing residential community,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “The Amphitheater is ‎a key component of our investment in the neighborhood, and will soon be home to both world class concerts and community events.‎ We're excited to be welcoming LiveNation, Legends and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment to the project, and look forward to working with them and iStar to bring this exciting new space to the Coney Island community.”

“America's Playground is getting ready to welcome its greatest attraction yet!” said Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President. “From its very first performance this summer, the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk will be a must-visit destination for fun-seekers in search of top-flight entertainment from near and far. I am excited that I will get to serve as host of the Seaside Summer Concert Series at this new and exciting venue, which will have a positive impact on the holistic growth of the Coney Island community for years to come.”

"As we await further infrastructure and transportation improvements, this facility will help ignite a cultural flair and vitality the likes of which Coney has been missing for decades,’ said Council Member Mark Treyger. “I have been assured that the team in place is committed to community engagement, and will be working with local shareholders to build on the area's tradition of free community concerts and other meaningful programming."

"We hope the Amphitheater is a catalyst for a neighborhood resurgence,” said Julia Butler, Senior Vice President, iStar. “By working with partners such as Coney Island USA, Live Nation, Legends, BSE, and Seaside Summer Concert Series, we are creating a venue that is vibrant and uniquely local.”

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