Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has been chosen over Live Nation and Columbus-based promoter PromoWest to build a new concert venue at The Banks, a mix-use development on the Ohio River. The Joint Banks Steering Committee (JBSC) announced the decision Wednesday, stating the Symphony was the preferred developer out of the three bidding for the facility.
“We look forward to working with the Joint Banks Steering Committee, the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to create a music venue that will establish Cincinnati as the premier destination for concerts,” read a statement from the Orchestra after they won the bid to build an indoor/outdoor venue for the Ohio development.
The Orchestra’s proposal calls for $19.25 million of private funding to build a three-story building with an indoor capacity of 4,000. The concert venue would be located on a parcel of land known as Lot 27 southeast of Paul Brown Stadium near Smale park.
According to Cincinnati Enquirer, funding for the Orchestra’s proposal is already in place and the non-profit organization would pay for any programming and staffing at outdoor events.
While the Orchestra’s proposal calls for a primarily indoor facility that would host over 100 events a year, it also allows for a temporary outdoor seasonal stage adjacent to the main structure. When not in use for concerts, the green space could be used by the public 85 percent of the year.
The preservation of the green space may have been a key factor in the decision to go with the Orchestra’s proposal over the competing bids. Both Live Nation, who was working with real estate developer Ark Group, and PromoWest’s proposals called for a permanent outdoor concert space.
“All of us like the idea of going to an outdoor concert, and we don’t want to lose that,” said Tom Gabelman, a steering committee member and Hamilton County’s counsel for The Banks project, according to the Enquirer. “But our space down here (at The Banks) is at a premium, and the CSO proposal maximizes the green space available to the public.”
Live Nation’s had proposed a $73 million indoor-outdoor facility, tentatively named the “Banks Event Center.” The bid required $36 million of public funding and would have been located on Lot 24 East of Paul Brown Stadium, home of National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals. It would have featured a retractable wall, balconies overlooking the river, and a 50-foot-long bar with big-screen monitors and seating above.
PromoWest’s proposal, which the promoter suggests they may continue to fight for, is for $15.3 million indoor-outdoor facility that would be funded by third party investors without public money. The split-level facility would give attendees a view of the river and use an airport hangar door to separate the indoor and outdoor spaces.
The PromoWest proposal had a letter of support from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who wrote “An indoor-only facility, while it may be a nice design, could be placed anywhere in the city. It would be a waste of the beautiful banks space to not take advantage of the view with an outdoor venue.”
PromoWest CEO Scott Stienecker is banking on that support as the company plans to continue its efforts to win the bid. The steering committee’s recommendation still has to be signed off on by both city and county officials. That decision is expected sometime next week.
“This recommendation isn’t a done deal,” Stienecker told the Enquirer. He added “I understand the pressure that this committee was probably under to go local, but I think Cincinnati wants the real deal, not doing something indoors.”
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