Fort Wayne, Indiana’s newest mid-size venue, Clyde Theatre, has announced the first slate of shows for its grand opening in May. With extensive renovations and community support, the 1951 theater will reopen with acts from Fitz and the Tantrums, Swedish heavy metal band Ghost, Chase Rice, and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. Tickets go on sale today for the majority of first round shows that currently run through August.
The 2,200-cap venue has been shuttered since the 1990s when it went out of commission as a movie theater. In 2012, Fort Wayne native and managing partner of Even Keel Events Rick Kinney purchased the deserted venue in the hopes of finally giving his hometown the music icon it deserved.
“My whole life growing up here, I always wondered why these shows didn’t come through Fort Wayne. As I grew up in the production world and the promoting world, I realized it was because we didn’t have the right kind of venue,” Kinney said. “This theater, nobody wanted it because it seemed like it was in really bad shape to the naked eye. To be completely honest, it was pretty bad. There were a ton of pigeons, all the windows were broken out, snow was flying through the building. It had been abandoned for 20 years at that point.”
A lot of work had to be done to the building, but with community support Kinney started construction in July of 2017. The completely renovated theater is now expected to reopen in on May 16.
“I’ve been traveling around as a production engineer for the past 15 years. I know what it takes to be able to host a large national concert in a room like this,” Kinney, who has also traveled as a musician, said. “When I walked in there, it was in pretty terrible shape. It must have been scary to most people, but all I saw was the vision of getting the birds out, doing extensive revisions, and turning it into an awesome concert hall.”
The art deco theater will now consist of a main performance hall featuring a large footprint of more than 21,000 square feet of floor space and will be utilized as a 2,150 capacity general admission concert hall and multi-functional special events center. Kinney’s team expanded the stage to 72-feet wide by 32-feet deep and built all new docks for easy loading and unloading for crews. They also added a 7,000-foot artist hospitality wing.
“We wanted to design these amenities to be as good, if not better than, a small arena. Even though it is only a 2,200-cap room, when it comes to production you need the same type of amenities that you need at any other building. We really focused a lot on artist hospitality and production,” Kinney said.
Clyde Theatre will have completely new electrical, plumbing, lighting, as well as top-notch audio from their local partners Chuck and Lisa Surack who own the local professional audio shop, Sweetwater.
“We are partnered with the owners of the Fort Wayne Sweetwater so we are installing a brand new, top of the line sound system, lighting system. A lot of the things you would see brought in for a national tour will actually already be in-house,” Kinney added.
Kinney told Amplify that the first wave of concerts announced was planned to showcase the variety of shows the Clyde plans to put on. The theater is in the heart of the Midwest, making it ideal for routing. Fort Wayne is three hours from Chicago, three and a half hours from Cleveland, two hours from Indianapolis, and Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.
“I’m extremely excited about this first wave of concerts. We wanted to set the tone and make sure that everyone knew that we were serious about booking huge national and international artists,” Kinney said. “We just made this first small announcement and there are going to be a lot more to come in the weeks and months. We want to make sure that people know that we’re offering music from local artists to national artists in every age demographic. We can do shows for 2,200 standing, but we can also do shows for 800 seated.”
Rock band Stone Sour is set for the very first show at the Clyde on May 16, followed by An Evening with Ghost and Fitz and the Tantrums. For the full calendar and tickets, head to ClydeTheatre.com.