Huntsville’s newest park is set to open its doors in 2022 — and by park, we mean amphitheater.
Ryan Murphy, President of Huntsville Venue Group and the mastermind behind the amphitheater, met with HuntsvilleMusic.com to fill us in on the big things ahead for Huntsville’s amphitheater. It’s a project that’s been two years in the making and which, as of October 2020, has been officially greenlit by Huntsville city.
“It’s going to look like nothing you’ve seen before,” Ryan promises, his excitement contagious.
The amphitheater will be a Romanesque marvel designed to hold 8,000 to 8,500 showgoers with not a single bad seat in the house. The design is intentional; the inside will be a bowl created to ‘hug in the sound,’ ensuring that everyone in attendance will be able to hear the live music regardless of seat.
“We’re lifting [audience members] up and bringing them in as tight as possible. The artist/fan experience is just mind-blowing at that point. Even in the worst seat in the house, you’re seeing the whites of the performers’ eyes.
And those ‘worst seats’ will be made all the better since the higher you climb in the amphitheater’s bowl, the better your view will be of Huntsville’s breathtaking skyline and sunsets.
But it isn’t just Huntsville locals Ryan and his team plan on attracting with the amphitheater. The plan is to draw in big-name performers and eventually host festivals and other events that turn the amphitheater into what Ryan refers to as a “pilgrimage spot,” further cementing Huntsville as a Music City in its own right.
“When Sound Diplomacy was here researching the idea of an amphitheater for the sound audit, my partners flew down and suggested creating an amphitheater that wouldn’t be just one of many but would be the one. The only one like it.”
Currently, the amphitheater is set to begin construction in 2021 with a projected completion date of January 2022. Its open-air structure means it will be a viable venue for socially distant events and allow for safe event-going in the current climate. The first concert won’t be for several months after construction is complete, but Ryan doesn’t plan on waiting until then to open the doors.
“By February and March [of 2022], ideally we’re doing community events. I am very much a proponent of opening this place up and literally anyone who wants to see it – wants to walk around, check it out – you’ll have a couple months to have done that before the first major concert. I wanna open this place and people go, ‘hey, I might not ever buy a ticket to see a concert there, but I can walk through and go grab a sandwich, a beer, I can go have a picnic, I can go do yoga, I can run the stairs.’”
These are the blueprints that decorate the office of The Venue Group.
Ryan’s list of amphitheater activities outside of shows isn’t merely hypothetical; all of these suggestions are rooted in experience. After all, this isn’t the first amphitheater he’s conceptualized and reinvented.
Ryan spent the last decade bringing the St. Augustine Amphitheater – colloquially and affectionately known as The Amp – into a new golden age. Along with booking star-power performers like Stevie Nicks, Steely Dan, and Santana, Ryan introduced community-minded initiatives like farmer’s markets, art shows, and smaller-scale concerts by local artists. It’s this vision he plans on iterating here in Huntsville.
“At St. Augustine, I’d get to work at 7:30 and there’d be people doing yoga in the pit. On any given day, there may be a farmer’s market, there’d be bands, there’s stuff for kids. There’d always be something going on to where you could go and not spend a dollar and still have a full day of fun.”
My question: “So… it’s like a park?’
“It is, yeah. It’s entirely for Huntsville, by Huntsville. We want to really drive home that point – that this is yours. Granted, we’ll still have ticketed events with awesome artists playing, but on any given day, if there’s not a concert, these gates are wide open.”
But it won’t only be big names performing in the 8,000-capacity venue. When asked about other, smaller bands and local acts, Ryan was enthusiastic about involving and showcasing this talent, too.
“We’ll have smaller bands play, too – we’ll get creative.”
Ryan draws inspiration from well-known, community-embracing venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado and Forest Hills Stadium in New York, both of which encourage community involvement and have famously expanded beyond the traditional understanding of a music venue. He believes that with the right mindset and the right community, the Huntsville Amphitheater can be counted among these ranks.
The amphitheater will be located in the MidCity district, tucked into the greenway to enhance the park-going experience. It will attract shows across all genres and be home to future festivals, art installations, farmers markets, and more. To stay up to date on the amphitheater’s progress, visit huntsvilleamphitheater.com and sign up for their mailing list, or follow them on social media @huntsvilleamphitheater.
Ryan’s promise to the community (and beyond) is simple: “On any given day, there’s going to be something.”
And we at HuntsvilleMusic.com cannot wait to go.
Ryan Murphy talks about the future plans for park.
Ryan Murphy talks about the orientation of the amphitheater.
Watch Know Huntsville’s interview with Ryan Murphy.
Grace is the Content Director of HuntsvilleMusic.com and lives in Madison, AL, which really isn’t that far, guys.
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