Levitt Pavilion Denver Opens
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The 7,500-cpacity amphitheater will be a free/paid hybrid
by Brad Weissberg | Venues Today
Denver’s new $7.2-million amphitheater, Levitt Pavilion Denver, opened last Thursday, July 20, with a free concert by Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, quickly followed by a ticketed UB40 show Friday, July 21. The unique concept will see free events and paid events living together at the new venue.
“Denver needed a venue this size,” said Dan Steinberg, co-founder, Emporium Presents, the promoter for the venue. “Size-wise, there’s nothing in our realm.”
This will also be Denver proper’s only amphitheater. “Levitt Pavilion is the only outdoor music venue within Denver’s city limits,” said Steinberg. “Red Rocks Amphitheater is to the west and Fiddler’s Green is south of Denver. Red Rocks is gorgeous, but there are not enough dates there. I think we’re going to be able to live side-by-side with Red Rocks.”
Stenberg said he also expects prices to be much lower at the new venue than at the older ones. “Our lawn seats are $15,” he said. “Our P1’s are going to be only $75.”
The $7.2-million venue is a partnership between Levitt Pavilions and the city of Denver. “What’s really special here is that we’re going to provide a mix of free public-service events and paid events,” he said. The city’s participation is tied to a bond issue from Denver Parks & Recreation. "Denver’s opening weekend has set the stage for its mission of building community through music,” said Steinberg.
This season the venue will host 30 free concerts and five admission-based events.
“Our goal has always been to bring in family-accessible music with diverse genres with a combination of free events and paid events,” he said.
Steinberg said future programming will emulate this year’s free/paid mix when it kicks into full seasons. “Next year, when the venue opens its doors for its first full season, we expect it will host 50 free concerts and 20-30 admission-based events,” he said.
Emporium Events, which has offices around the country, will be programming the amphitheater exclusively.
Ground broke in the fall of 2016. “One of the other unique things about the venue is that we are highly flexible because of a unique fencing system that will allow us to move the fence and make the venue more intimate or grander as need be,” said Steinberg.
“What the public needs to understand is the unique opportunity they will have to see free shows here,” said Co-owner of Emporium Presents Jason Zink. “It's been quite a process from standing in a grassy bowl in a public park and hearing Levitt's Chris Zacher's (executive director of the pavilion) vision of the amphitheater, to putting together a unique partnership, to seeing the venue come out of the ground and take life.”
Zink was quite enthusiastic following the inaugural weekend at the amphitheater. “After the opening weekend, we realized that the audience reaction was so positive that we may actually have underestimated the great potential we knew existed in the venue," he said.
“It’s amazing to see how quickly the community of Denver has embraced its newest jewel, the Levitt Pavilion Denver,” said Steinberg. “We hit the ground running with UB40 and, based on ticket sales, Josh Abbott Band, 311, Cody Johnson and the Levitt Pavilion Beer Festival will all be a smashing success. It's thrilling to be involved.”
Opening night kicked off with speeches of gratitude and a ceremonial ribbon cutting by Liz Levitt, president of Levitt Foundation, Councilman Jolon Clark, Deputy Mayor Happy Haynes, and Zacher.
After the speeches and ribbon cutting, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club took the stage with special guests Andy Thomas’ Dust Heart, Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams.
Friday night’s follow-up, the first ticketed concert featuring UB40 and guests Ali, Astro & Mickey, Matisyahu and Raging Fyah went just as well, according to Zink.
“Thousands of fans poured in with lawn chairs, coolers, snacks and blankets,” said Zink. “It was something to see. We were thrilled with the reaction to both the free event and the paid event. The future looks bright for the facility.”
Concessions are currently provided by local food trucks. “We’re examining bringing in a fulltime concessionaire, but for now, we kind of like the local flavor the food trucks provide,” said Zink. The food trucks are selected for each show. “We pick out food based on the show,” explained Zink. The venue is a profit participant.
There’s also a permanent in-house bar. “We own the liquor license,” said Zink.
“Overall, the feeling people get from the venue is how beautiful it is,” said Zink. “We’re in the middle of an 88-acre park.”
Steinberg also mentioned that the venue has also formed the Colorado Music Collective. “This will allow local musicians to connect with industry professionals,” he said. They’ve also teamed up with Folk Alliance International.
“We want to be the venue that thinks about local artists in a different way,” he said. “We’re giving local artists a stage to showcase their work and not expect them to have to sell tickets.”