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$40 Million Music Venue Coming to Newport's Ovation Site

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The first phase of the Ovation development in Newport will include what developers are calling "a world class music venue".

An announcement took place at the riverfront site late Thursday morning.

Covington-based Corporex, which owns the long-dormant site, reached an agreement with AEG Presents/PromoWest to construct the $40 million venue.

Site preparations are expected to begin immediately with construction starting as soon as final permits are secured, a news release said.

The music venue would boast a "ground-breaking design", developers said, and will accommodate indoor audiences of up to 2,700 and an outdoor capacity for summer shows of up to 7,000.

The concert hall will have a unique, sweeping roof design and will sit atop a 550-space parking garage.

The Venue Plaza will be linked to future developments at the 25-acres Ovation site via a pedestrian walkway over the recently complete Kentucky Route 9 (Licking Pike) expansion.

The pedestrian bridge will be linked to the restaurants, night life and other entertainment spots that will make up the main pedestrian streets dubbed Broadway and Main Streets within the mixed-use Ovation development, a news release said.

“We began working with Scott Stienecker, CEO of PromoWest, more than a year ago, with a goal of securing an entertainment venue that would be a centerpiece to the Ovation development," said Tom Banta, managing director of Corporex. "During the course of our negotiations, PromoWest was acquired by AEG Presents, one of the largest live music companies in the world. We are delighted to now be working with two, best in class, live music promoters attracting both regional and national talent”.

“The Newport location provides AEG/PromoWest the perfect opportunity to expand our Midwest presence to the Cincinnati marketplace,” said Scott Stienecker, CEO of PromoWest.  “We intend to bring many of the same groups that play at our EXPRESS LIVE! in Columbus, Ohio, and STAGE AE in Pittsburg, Penn. to Greater Cincinnati.”

PromoWest had previously sought to develop a music venue at The Banks in Cincinnati, but was passed over in favor of the Cincinnati Symphony. The burgeoning riverfront rivalry between Newport and Cincinnati appears to continue now with two music venues forthcoming, along with dueling Ferris wheel attractions in the works.

A statement provided with the announcement addressed that: “We saw this as an opportunity to bring one of the world’s largest live music companies to the region and as an anchor to our Ovation development. The AEG/PromoWest Venue is a very unique indoor/outdoor facility that creates an intimate musical experience. AEG intends to capitalize on its existing facilities in Columbus and Pittsburg and bring many of those same acts to Cincinnati.”

Corporex will own the facility and will lease it on a long-term basis to AEG. Terms of the lease will not be public.

“The Ovation development is exciting on many levels,” said Shawn Trell, Chief Operating Officer for AEG Presents. “At its core, it represents a marriage between a first-class developer and a first-class content provider and venue operator.   The venue design and capabilities fill a void in the market and are a natural fit with our venues in Columbus and Pittsburgh as well as other properties we own or operate in Cleveland and Detroit.   We look forward to working with the Corporex team to make this venue a reality.   I know it will be one that artists and music fans will enjoy tremendously, and that the region will be proud to call its own.”

“We truly appreciate the effort and thought that Corporex and AEG has put into this project,” said Thomas Fromme, Newport City Manager.

“The City of Newport eagerly looks forward to working with these great companies as they start the first phase of Ovation,” said Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso.

The project is the first of multiple phases of the Ovation project, which Corporex first announcement more than a decade ago. The next phase wil include parking, for-sale residential flats, street-level restaurants and night sports, and "perhaps a hotel", a statement from Corporex said. 

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Ovation site as seen this week (RCN)

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Ovation site currently (RCN)