‘Bittersweet:’ Demolition underway on American Family Insurance Amphitheater

MILWAUKEE -- Demolition got underway Tuesday, Sept. 25 on the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, marking the end of an era for Summerfest.

Sarah Pancheri

"I think it symbolizes the legacy of Summerfest," said Don Smiley, Summerfest CEO.

"I was an usher in the building in high school, so to see this building grow is really exciting. I would say bittersweet," said Sarah Pancheri, VP of Sales and Marketing.

Summerfest officials plan on making new memories in a $50 million venue.

"Artists have a choice when it comes to where they play. Having a new building and better amenities is an attraction," said Pancheri.

The first phase of construction began Tuesday, and will be completed for Summerfest 2019.  Crews will lift a portion of the Amphitheater roof to 65 feet, and reconfigure the stage to increase production options within the venue. The backstage building will also be rebuilt, offering new amenities for artists.

"If you think about the video that's been added to shows, that really allows, that allows the production to increase in size and scope," said Pancheri.

The second phase of work will begin immediately after Summerfest 2019 and will include amenities for guests, including new concourses, new restrooms, new seats, additional hospitality areas and increased food and beverage operations.

"Wider concourses, more restrooms, more bars and restaurants, a new seating bowl, new video capabilities and so on," said Smiley.

The grand opening of the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater is scheduled for Summerfest 2020.

Rendering of new 23,000 seat amphitheater at Maier Festival Park