What’s next for outdoor music in Cincinnati? Venue operators weigh in

The battle of the brand-new, similarly sized venues is upon us.

Both are indoor-outdoor complexes. Both are operated by talent buyers with history and capital in the region.

On the Cincinnati side is the Andrew J Brady Icon Music Center, with an outdoor capacity of 8,000 and 4,400 for indoor shows. Across the river, it’s the PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation: 7,000 outdoor; 2,700 indoor.

They both have fancy names, but we can call them the Icon and Ovation.

They’ll be competing for the same bands. Could that drive up the guarantees paid to bands, thereby driving up ticket prices? Or could the competition force the venues to keep prices low?

It has been over a year since a Cincinnatian could stand outside on a warm evening with thousands of others, a beer in hand, watching a band. So it’s fair to assume there is pent-up demand in the marketplace.

Under normal circumstances, the battle of the new venues would be upon us, as big outdoor summer tours start typically around here in April. But the battle is deferred. Until when? We will see, as we check in with the principals at the Icon and Ovation, as well as other operations of outdoor music events in the area. 

Thousands of people watch the Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band concert at Riverbend Music Center on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Cincinnati, remarkably enough, survived a Jimmy Buffett-less summer last year.

Can we do it again? Will we have to?

Rosemarie Moehring says there will be music at Riverbend this summer. But she doesn’t know when that first show will be.

“We don’t have an exact timeline,” says Moehring, the director of marketing for MEMI, Riverbend’s operator. “Obviously we’re still monitoring everything and going to follow the state guidelines, but we think mid-to-late summer is very optimistic, like mid-July timeframe.”

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