Huntsville doesn't expect profit from $50 million amphitheater coming to MidCity

Construction should start next year.

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 10:46 PM
Updated: Oct 4, 2019 10:59 PM

The city of Huntsville does not expect a return on investment when a new $50 million amphitheater is built.

The public venue will be located in Huntsville's MidCity development along University Drive and Research Park Boulevard.

By 2021, the almost 9,000-seat venue will open. The city doesn't expect the amphitheater to turn a profit. The city's Von Braun Center does not turn a profit either.

City officials say these are not-for-profit venues, and their purpose is to provide entertainment for the community.

A Huntsville city administrator, John Hamilton, says one of the biggest investments the city is making will most likely not pay for itself.

"Is there a point within the future where it becomes fully self-sufficient and covers all of those costs? Potentially, but generally speaking, these kinds of venues aren't expected to," he said.

Taxpayer money will help pay for the $50 million amphitheater. Of that, $40 million will just be on construction.

Hamilton says things like parking and tickets will help cut some of the cost, but not all.

"We certainly expect it to cover some, but the VBC does not cover all of its own costs, but can you imagine Huntsville without the VBC?" he said.

WAAY 31 did some research on the history of the Von Braun Center and there are some similarities. The city says in 1975, it cost $15 million to build, which would translate to almost $71 million today.

The city says the center is still not self-sufficient and has plenty of costs. They expect the amphitheater to be in the same situation.

Hamilton says it's not always about having a profitable venue because the amphitheater is a "quality of life" investment that will ideally attract more people to the area.

One Madison County resident says it adds more diversity of entertainment in the city.

"But, I think it gives us options, and regardless, I think it's good for the economy," Barbara Winslow, who lives in Madison County, said.

Right now, Hamilton said the city is still in the design phase of things.

"Ultimately, your community gains a lot from it that's not necessarily measured in dollars and cents," he said.

After that, the city will look to hire a private operator that will bring in concerts and talent to the venue. Construction should start next year.

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