BootLeg Betty

Hey Florida: Outdoor theater planned for St. Johns

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The Business Journal of Jacksonville – July 10, 2003
Outdoor theater planned for St. Johns
P. Douglas Filaroski

A concert promoter currently booking American Idol and Rolling Stones shows around the world filed plans in St. Johns County to build a 10,000-seat outdoor theater near Interstate 95.

Promoter Jack Utsick of South Florida submitted plans Thursday for a $14 million amphitheater that could open by late 2004 in time for Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, a partner of Utsick’s said.

“There has been a boom of these outdoor venues around the country,” said Jack Nicholson, who is also a facilities consultant. “We are very encouraged this would work.”

Utsick was overseas, where a concert he promoted for Robbie Williams sold out in Germany, but county officials confirmed the application by Utsick’s Entertainment Group Fund Inc.

Utsick was one of the parties that bid in 1996 to be developer of a 7,000-seat, $20 million outdoor theater at Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, Nicholson said.

That plan failed after then-Mayor John Delaney withdrew his support for the venue following neighbors’ complaints about potential noise.

The latest proposal in St. Johns County comes as officials embark on renovations of a 38-year-old amphitheater in St. Augustine. Capacity for the county-managed venue is set to increase to 4,500 seats when work is complete next year.

Nicholson, whose New Century Venues would manage the proposed amphitheater, said the two venues would feature different acts and draw separate crowds.

A 10,000-seat venue could draw acts similar to those Utsick has promoted in the past. Nicholson speculated it could draw acts such as Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, Harry Connick Jr. and Amy Grant.

“We would look at them as a friend. We could help them book acts,” said Nicholson, who said Utsick’s gross revenues rank his company among the top five in concert booking and promotion in the world.

© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.

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