PORTLAND, Maine — The general manager of The State Theatre has signed an agreement to operate a new outdoor concert venue at Portland’s waterfront Thompson’s Point, where developers Forefront Partners are working on a broader redevelopment effort.
“Until Thompson’s Point, there has not been a feasible site in Portland that can host concerts outdoors on a consistent basis,” said Lauren Wayne, general manager of The State Theatre, in a Tuesday morning statement. “Everyone wants to be outside in Maine in the summer, and next summer we can be outside, enjoying great music. We are extremely excited to begin this relationship with our partners at Thompson’s Point, and we are looking forward to developing an amazing outdoor site with them.”
The Thompson’s Point outdoor venue will have a capacity of about 5,000.
That’s in a different market than the Live Nation-affiliated Waterfront Concerts at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, which has a capacity of about 15,000. The Bangor promoters launched a series of outdoor concerts in Portland this summer at the city-owned Maine State Pier, which has a capacity of about 3,000 people.
Among the performers Waterfront Concerts brought to the Maine State Pier were Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, country star Dierks Bentley and rock band 3 Doors Down.
No acts have been booked for the Thompson’s Point venue yet, but Wayne said programming will go beyond the kinds of concerts held at the 1,500-capacity State Theatre and its sister venue, the 529-person Port City Music Hall.
The new 5,000-capacity space may hit a concert-size sweet spot just larger than the rival Maine State Pier, but just smaller than the 6,800-person Cross Insurance Arena — formerly Cumberland County Civic Center.
Other venues in the Northeast with a similar capacity of about 5,000 include the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston, the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn, New York, and the Constellation Brands Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, New York.
Among the musicians to take the stage over the years at those similarly sized venues are Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Kid Rock and the Allman Brothers Band.
The State Theatre team was behind the one-off 2012 outdoor concert by Grammy-winning folk rock band Mumford & Sons on the city-owned Eastern Promenade, which drew an estimated 15,000 people to Portland and generated $54,000 for the city.
Partners in the new Portland venue said events are slated to start there in the summer of 2015 and The State Theatre, which does business as Crobo LLC, will be the event center’s exclusive promoter.
“This is an incredible partnership for us because it fits our vision for developing a property in Portland that becomes a hub of creative energy,” said Chris Thompson and Jed Troubh of Forefront Partners in a joint statement. “The creation of an outdoor concert venue has been a goal of this development team from the beginning, and we’re thrilled to partner with The State Theatre to bring it to fruition.”
There has been speculation since mid-August over the location of an outdoor concert venue in Portland.
Wayne did not specify the length of the agreement with Forefront Partners and said many of the details of the partnership are still being worked out, including financial details, infrastructure plans and how much will ultimately be invested.
An outdoor concert venue has been a consistent part of the developers’ plans for the $105 million redevelopment at Thompson’s Point, which includes plans for an arena to host the minor league basketball team, the Maine Red Claws, as well as office space, the Circus Conservatory of America and a “ makerspace” called the Open Bench project.
According to a Tuesday morning announcement, the concert venue will be located on the southern tip of the Thompson’s Point peninsula, near the recently restored section of the 1960s-era Union Station platform shed. The developers also said they plan to eventually link the venue to walking and biking trails being maintained by the organization Portland Trails for easy pedestrian access.