MILWAUKEE — Summerfest unveiled the newly renovated American Family Insurance Amphitheater Monday. The main stage at the Big Gig has undergone a $51 million renovation, nearly two years after the last concert it hosted.
The work was scheduled to be done for the 2020 Summerfest season, but since the festival was canceled for 2020, there was more time to work on the project.
The main change is amphitheater height. Construction crews raised the roof from 39 to 65 feet tall. Summerfest officials say this will allow for bigger stadium style shows.
“From the artist perspective, there are important upgrades that allow us to attract the line up for our fans, and what our fans expect,” said Entertainment Director Bob Babisch.
When in the seats, concert goers will have a better sight line to the stage, which has been raised to accommodate more acts and allow for flexibility.
By the numbers, there are 800 more seats, with more accommodating isles. The seats also have cupholders, the most sought after request according to Summerfest CEO Don Smiley.
Smiley says the renovations were extensive. “As you can see, everything is new. We have new concourses, new bars, new seats and the list goes on and on,” he said.
Concession points of sale inside the theater grew from 70 to 160, and so did the number of restrooms. Women have a total of 150 stalls, up from 74. Men gained a few as well, up to 100 from 82.
The construction was underway when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down, and left the re-opening in question.
“A year ago at this time, I wasn’t sure when we were going to be able to open, if we were going to be able to open, and what it what it would be able to even look like,” said American Family Insurance CEO Jack Salzwedel. American Family Insurance sponsors both the amphitheater and the Summerfest.
The first concert to be held in the renovated space will be the Foo Fighters on July 30. There are several concerts leading up to Summerfest, which was pushed back to three weekends in September of 2021.