Miami-based artist Hoxxoh created this mural on the west side of PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation. Natalie Grilli
PromoWest CEO Scott Stienecker PromoWest Productions
The PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation will stage concerts both indoors and outdoors. Natalie Grilli
The PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation can handle up to 7,000 people outdoors. Paul Grilli
The PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation is nearly ready to open. When it is safe to do so, it will change the music scene in the region. Along with the Andrew J. Brady Icon Music Center in downtown Cincinnati, it will give the region two new midsized music venues. PromoWest Pavilion is modeled after two other PromoWest venues in Columbus and Pittsburgh, with a movable stage that can be reversed to present concerts both indoors and outdoors.
NKY Thrives Managing Editor David Holthaus interviewed PromoWest CEO Scott Stienecker about the concert timetable, the bands, and what live music will be like in the pandemic era.
NKY Thrives: When will the building be finished?
Scott Stienecker: The building is ready to roll. We're waiting on the world to open up 100%. We need our industry to be at 100%. I think we're getting there. All indications are we're getting there.
NKY Thrives: When do you expect concerts to be held?
Stienecker: We are booking stuff for September. We're going to do a few special events in August, and then we're going to do our grand opening month with 15 shows in September.
NKY Thrives: Sounds like a full schedule.
Stienecker: I mean, it's all up in the air, but yeah, we're in hopes that by September 1 we can be doing shows at 100%. I mean there'll be stipulations, and people may have to wear a mask, or who knows what protocols there'll be, but we'll have to abide by all the protocols, but we're hoping September 1 we're rocking.
NKY Thrives: Have you booked shows beyond September?
Stienecker: Oh yeah. We’ve got the fall. We’ve got October, November. We’re into next year right now.
NKY Thrives: And you have not announced these concerts, why is that?
Stienecker: We're waiting to make sure the governor gives us the thumbs up before we announce. If you go on sale and then you have to move it again … we've been doing that for a year now, moving shows, pushing shows. So we're holding off right now, but we feel confident that by the end of May we'll be able to announce some of these things.
NKY Thrives: The Reds are doing 30% and 40% capacity at their ballpark, why can’t you do that?
Stienecker: We're not driven by TV revenues. We're all ticket sales. These artist’s guarantees are such that it doesn't work at 30% capacity. If we were doing smaller bands, local, regional, smaller national stuff, you could maybe do 30%. But when you're dealing in the bigger acts, you need to be able to be rolling.
NKY Thrives: What kind of shows can people can expect to see there?
Stienecker: We'll do all genres. To give you an idea of what we were doing, look at the Bunbury Festival every year. You know those 45 acts that we would do, that's our main genre. What's hot right now is what we mainly go after. (Editor’s note: The 2020 Bunbury festival, which was canceled, had announced as its headliners pop rock duo Twenty One Pilots, electronic dance artist Marshmello, and folk rockers The Avett Brothers.) We'll do some classic rock stuff, we'll do some country. But mainly it's what's hot right now.
NKY Thrives: How will the Ovation Pavilion and the Icon Music Center in Cincinnati change the music scene in this market?
Stienecker: It will completely change it. Everywhere that we've opened – Columbus, then Pittsburgh, now Cincinnati, it just makes the market energized and viable. Every tour will be stopping, and with Icon in the mix too, now you've got two buildings that are going to spur the market. Cincinnati is going to go from where they were at to very, very busy. Very energized.
NKY Thrives: Why is that?
Stienecker: It's that middle ground that isn't found in a lot of markets. Once you hit that middle ground, we found in both Columbus and Pittsburgh, it becomes a place where every act has to stop.
NKY Thrives: What is the layout and design like for the concertgoer?
Stienecker: We're general admission, so it's standing, unless you’re a VIP box holder. We have 30 VIP boxes. Inside, the balcony is bleachers. Downstairs, it’s standing. On certain shows, we can chair it. Inside, the stage can be moved out. So pushed all the way back we can do 2,700 capacity. We can move the stage out, so we can go down to 1,500 capacity. So, indoors, we're 1,500 to 2,700. Then, outdoors, you're using the same stage, you're just opening the back of the building. You have an orchestra pit that you can leave GA or you can chair. Then you have your VIP boxes, then you have 300 permanent seats. And then you have your lawn. So it's mostly GA outdoors but we could seat probably about 2,000 seats on a particular show, but most shows will be GA. And it goes from 5,000 if we close off the right hand side, or we can go to 7,000 max outside
NKY Thrives: What will the impact of the pandemic be, big picture, on the music industry.
Stienecker: Right away, I think the demand to come out is going to be huge. Everybody's going to want to get out and go to concerts. We just have to be careful that the market isn’t so saturated with shows. Before the pandemic, live music was it. Everything was doing well. Touring is the biggest aspect of how artists make money. So the touring business was just on fire when the pandemic hit. Do we think it's going to be back on fire? Yes we do. But we’ll have to see.
David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.