MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. officials unveiled renderings and details on Wednesday, Oct. 31 for the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater.
Officials said the new outdoor facility is designed to enhance the overall fan experience as well as provide expanded production capabilities to accommodate the largest artists and tours. The $50 million project is poised to transform the venue for the next generation of music fans.
"Building this new amphitheater is essential to Summerfest's legacy as a world-class event, as well as keeping commitment to our fans," said Don Smiley, president and CEO of Summerfest.
The American Family Insurance Amphitheater will include an entirely new seating bowl configuration and raised stage to allow for better sight lines, enhanced accessibility, expanded concourses, new video screens, reimagined food and beverage operations, new VIP hospitality areas, additional restrooms and much more.
"The most dramatic change is the step in the roof itself. We are cutting the existing roof into two sections and raising the front section above the new stage 26 feet. This will provide us specifications that allow us to compete with the absolute highest and best world-class venues anywhere in the world," said Smiley.
The project will be completed over a two-year period. During the first phase of construction, officials will focus on infrastructure updates and production-related improvements, including raising a portion of the existing roof to 65 feet to increase stage production, new dressing rooms, production office space, band catering and dining areas, electrical upgrades and backstage production facilities. The first phase of work has begun and will be ready for Summerfest 2019.
"This will provide us specifications that allow us to compete with the absolute highest and best world-class venues anywhere in the world. We will be providing addition viewing platforms. You can see the stage and see the show from the food areas," said Greg Uhen, architect.
Following Summerfest 2019, construction will resume on the second phase, which includes new food and beverage options, restrooms, increased accessibility and a new seating bowl as currently configured with the same capacity of 23,000. Grand opening is scheduled for Summerfest 2020.
"There really is no big huge ticket price increase to pay for all this. We are creatively financing it on our own," said Smiley.
Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) is the lead architectural firm for the design of the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater and Hunzinger Construction Company is managing the construction project. Both firms played a role in the building of the original facility in the mid-1980s.