Richmond riverfront amphitheater gets green light
Construction could begin this summer on a $30 million, 7,500-person amphitheater overlooking the James River. On June 12, Richmond City Council approved a 20-year performance grant that gives Red Light Ventures LLC the green light to build its proposed amphitheater on four acres of land it will rent from NewMarket Corp. behind the American Civil War Museum at the historic Tredegar Iron Works.
With plans to host up to 35 major acts annually, Red Light Ventures says the amphitheater could be open in time for the 2025 outdoor concert season. The project was initially pitched in summer 2022 by Charlottesville-based music industry executive Coran Capshaw, founder of Red Light Management, through which he has managed the careers of Dave Matthews Band and hundreds of other major music performers. Concerts at the amphitheater will be arranged via Starr Hill Presents, Capshaw’s Charlottesville-based concert promotion company. Capshaw also developed and operates Charlottesville’s Ting Pavilion and co-partnered with concert promoter Live Nation on Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.
The performance grant is based on incremental new real estate and admissions taxes on the venue to offset the project’s cost. The performance grant is capped at $37 million, Richmond Economic Development Director Leonard Sledge has said, adding that financial models estimate that grant’s total at $26.4 million.
As part of the deal, the development team will stage a benefit concert during the amphitheater’s first year in operation, with proceeds to be donated to a nonprofit that will address community needs. The amphitheater will also be available to the city and nonprofit groups for civic events.
The new venue fulfills goals laid out in Richmond’s growth plan about developing tourism attractions to elevate the city’s image and to “continue to delight existing and future residents, employers and visitors,” Sledge adds.
Grant Lyman, Southeast region president for Live Nation, a partner in the project, says the new amphitheater will fill a void for touring artists between Washington, D.C., and the Carolinas, and puts Richmond on the radar of more performing acts.
“The fan and artist’s experience here in Richmond will be world-class, bringing fans downtown to the riverfront with a background that showcases the city’s urban growth,” Lyman says. “Richmond can often be overlooked by big-name artists who are looking for a venue that’s large enough to meet the demand of their fan base, as well as capable of supporting their production needs.”