Stage AE—Year round venue on North Shore

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Wiz Khalifa—sold out. Girl Talk—sold out. Four of the first seven scheduled dates at the new Stage AE venue on the North Side all sold out, even with workers adding finishing touches a day before the first show.

If that trend continues for the 100 events managers hope to put on this year, neighboring bars and restaurants will truly welcome their new neighbor.

soundsystem
SOUND SYSTEM—The outdoor amphitheater at Stage AE offers views of the point and Mt. Washington to concert goers, those lounging on the lawn during summer time shows. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

“If we get people to come to town just one more time a year, that’s 200,000 folks providing tax revenue, and going to these places on General Robinson and Federal Street before or after a show,” said Marketing Director Pat Lucas.

The new venue, managed by PromoWest Productions and owned by the Pittsburgh Steelers, has turned what would have been a parking lot into a unique indoor/outdoor concert facility simultaneously reminiscent of the industrial feel of the old Metropol in the Strip District and the open-air lawn seating of First Niagara Pavilion.

It melds those split personalities by using the same stage for both indoor and outdoor shows.

“This entire wall opens up like a garage door. When that happens, lights fly and speakers flip, curtains close and the sound goes out instead of in,” said Lucas. “The maximum capacity outdoors is 2,300. For indoor shows, it’s 5,500.”

In either mode, the bulk of the audience will be standing room only, in “the pit” floor area directly in front of the stage. For outdoor shows there will be reserved table seating and behind that lawn seating.

For indoor shows, there are two rows of reserved box seats on the second floor. Behind the main bank of second-floor box seats, are another 130 folding bleacher seats. There are full service bars on both floors and wait service for box seat holders.

Box seat holders also have access to the private upstairs lounge furnished by title sponsor American Eagle, which has a bank of 20 reserved seats directly across from center stage.

But Stage AE is still more flexible, for smaller shows, the first-floor main stage, pit and seating can be partitioned off from the bar area which has also features a small second stage. Capacity for these shows are 500 people.

That flexibility also extends to making performers comfortable, with four dressing rooms, shower facilities, a media room and a conference room. Lucas added Stage AE would host more than musical performances.

“Mostly we’re talking old-school, sweating-on-the-guy-next-to-you Rock and Roll, but we’ll do it all; Blues, Hip- Hop, DJs, whatever,” he said. “We’ll do special events weddings, graduations, holiday parties, and graduations. There’s no real blueprint, we’ll make it up as we go.”

To that end, Lucas said the venue will do something with the Steelers for Rib Fest and for the Regatta, he just doesn’t know what. He also said he expects to be open for some tailgating during football season so people can watch the game on closed-circuit TV out of the cold, or stop in after the game to wait out traffic.

Lucas expects more local companies to purchase boxes once they see the venue.

“When we started, people were like ‘is it an amphitheater, is it a bar?’ Then they come in and go, ‘Oh, I get it,’” he said.

A set of four box seats to every general admission events, plus access to the second-floor lounge and reserved parking is priced at $20,000, and the venue’s next show? George Clinton and Funkadelic/ Parliament, Dec. 10. Tickets are $28 in advance and $30 the day of the show and are available through Ticketmaster.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcouier.com.)

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