Coney Island has gone through some fits and starts of rebirth in recent years. Some parts are only exciting if you love waiting in line for chain hamburgers or shoving food-scented bread down your throat. But here’s one major development that could (probably) be a good thing: The boardwalk this summer will get a huge new 5,000-seat semi-outdoor amphitheater that’ll host concerts, sports, family events and comedy, and become the new home for the annual free Seaside Concert series. Set to open in July, it’ll finally put use to the old historic old Childs Building, which has been sadly sitting vacant for years. The seating arrangement will allow crowds to expand into a space next to the boardwalk, for some summer shows with an ocean breeze. There’s no word on who will appear there this year, but beachside summer entertainment at the boardwalk is something has been sorely lacking for years. Don’t let anyone tell you NYC isn’t a beach town.
The Childs Building, last seen hosting Lola Star’s awesome roller disco before it eventually moved to Prospect Park, was originally a huge restaurant when it opened in 1923. It’s a landmark representing some of Coney’s glory days, but it’s been neglected for decades. Now, it’s being outfitted with 50-foot-tall doors that will open to the amphitheater for the summer, and close for events in the winter months. The venue has been in the works for a few years but this is the first announcement of an official opening date.
The booking for the new venue will be handled by Live Nation, which books shows at solid spots like Irving Plaza, the Stone Pony and the Gramercy Theater, and some unimpeachably bad venues like the PNC Bank Arts Center, which is somehow the only venue your Brokelyn editor has ever been kicked out of (and during a Steve Miller Band show, no less).
The new theater got the stamp of approval from Dick Zigun, founder of the sideshow and the unofficial mayor of Coney, who said in a press release:
“The opening of the new amphitheater further enriches Coney Island’s long history of offering the City of New York, and especially the borough of Brooklyn, unique entertainment in a seaside environment.”
It’ll also become home to Coney’s 36-year-old free summer concert series, which was previously held in an open lot and always appealed to a certain … dad/mom-ish demographic: Last year’s lineup was just three shows including Starship and Kool & The Gang; the 2013 lineup included Huey Lewis, Chicago, the Go-Go’s and Cheap Trick. (The series took off in 2014, ostensibly to focus on this amphitheater project).
It’s too early to tell exactly what kinds of shows they’ll be booking at the venue outside of the free series, and Live Nation isn’t exactly known for its cheap ticket-shows. But maybe Coney is finally tired of being out-cooled by Rockaway.
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