Ovation Pavilion is nearly ready for live music, but concerts must wait for a safer time

The new music venue under construction in Newport will soon be finished. The big question, of course, is when will it start hosting concerts.

Workers at the site are finishing up “last-minute punch-list things,” says Scott Stienecker, CEO of PromoWest Productions. Concert promoter PromoWest will operate the venue, which is called Ovation Pavilion.

When the facility is ready, PromoWest will have 90 days to move in sound and lighting equipment, furniture, and bar equipment. “When that 90 days is up, we’ll be ready to open,” Stienecker says. “The problem is, the world won’t be ready yet.”

Stienecker says his company has concert dates on hold for as early as May. “But, realistically, you’re probably looking at July at the earliest, maybe even into September,” he says.

That all depends on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to contain it and vaccinate against it.

Stienecker says he will push concert dates to later in the year as needed. “We’ll push back dates as we know more,” he says. “But we’re ready to start doing shows in May if the world allows it.”

Ovation Pavilion is an indoor-outdoor venue that will hold 2,700 people indoors and up to 7,000 for shows presented on its outdoor stage. PromoWest operates similar venues in Columbus and Pittsburgh, books music for several different venues in Columbus, and owns Cincinnati's Bunbury Music Festival, which it recently announced would be postponed from its summer date this year due to COVID-19. PromoWest is owned by AEG Presents, one of the world's largest concert promoters.

“When we put these in place in Columbus and Pittsburgh, it just changes the whole market,” he says. “The whole buzz, the type of shows that come.”

A similar venue is being completed at the same time in downtown Cincinnati at The Banks riverfront district. The Andrew J. Brady Icon Music Center will be similar in size and will be owned and operated by Music and Event Management Inc., a subsidary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“Cincinnati will be rockin’,” Stienecker said. “There will be a buzz there now.”

Ovation Pavilion is considered Phase 1 of the overall Ovation development being planned by Corporex Cos.

A hotel and office space were announced in 2020 as part of the second phase of Ovation in Newport. A 125-room Homewood Suites by Hilton and roughly 100,000 square feet in office space are planned. The hotel will have suites with skyline views and two bars, including one on the rooftop. Plaza-level retail is also part of the plan, Corporex says.



Read more articles by David Holthaus.

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.