They could be rocking and a rolling by late summer at a new entertainment venue at the former Military Ocean Terminal if all goes as planned, according to the site developer and concert promoter.
The foundation has been poured and steel arches have been erected for the 3,000-person temporary BCB Bank Pavilion that could begin hosting concerts, ethnic festivals, car shows, and other expositions in September, according to Robert Donnell, head of Robert Donnell Productions.
The company originally hoped to begin booking acts for as early as June this year, but ran into construction delays, Donnell said. They included creating a stronger foundation for the bandshell-like structure as required by the city, and discussions with Public Service Electric & Gas to assure that the venue would have the electricity necessary for bands of all sizes and all companies that would use the site.
“We’re moving along nicely now after we had some unexpected setbacks; but we recovered,” Donnell said on July 24. Workers were ready to pour the final concrete for the pavilion.
He said the 30,000-square-foot structure should be finished in early August, after a fabric cover and sides are attached to the steel arches and the infrastructure for electricity is completed by PSE&G.
“For sound and microphones you need lots and lots of power,” Donnell said.
The expectation is that bands and other events will then be booked for September and October. Live Nation and Clear Channel Z100 will handle the music bookings.
A kickoff party is anticipated for the last week of August. In the abbreviated first season, the Cole Brothers Circus and a Halloween party are expected. The Asian-Indian community has inquired about having its festival there.
On nice days, the fabric on the sides of the pavilion can be pulled up, accommodating another 500 to 1,000 people. The fenced-in area at the site, on Chosin Few Way and near 41st Street, can hold up to another 4,000 people, according to Donnell.
A big draw
The amphitheater could be a magnet for bands and other events because it would be considered a “New York venue” by the rest of the country.
Donnell said the site is similar to the Tanglewood, Mass. entertainment venue, home of the Boston Pops.
“Were moving along nicely now after we had some unexpected setbacks; but we recovered.” – Robert Donnell
“It’s kind of a park,” he said. “People can stay outside, or go inside, similar to Tanglewood.”
Benefits to Bayonne residents would be having a local performing arts center right in their own city, and reasonable ticket prices, according to Donnell.
He said they could be as much as 60 to 70 percent less than events in New York City.
Prices could be as low as $15 or $20 for a festival, about $40 to $50 for some bands, and about $75 for upper-tier entertainers such as a Bruno Mars.
Donnell cited other advantages.
“Where we are it’s free parking, or you take the Light Rail in and you’re there,” he said. “In New York, you have to pay to get there, travel, and pay for parking.”
Donnell also said there is no cost to residents for the construction or running of the amphitheater. “Citizens are not paying for the building or maintenance of it,” he said. “Not anything. It’s all paid for with private money.”
If all goes well with the inaugural season, Donnell believes the venue will be “booked solid” in 2016. Then after that temporary, two-year deal with the city is up, the two parties could renegotiate for something permanent.
Business, city hall support
BCB Bank is the main sponsor of the entertainment venue, but there are many others.
Donnell lauded the cooperation of local businesses and the city administration.
“What’s nice about Bayonne, in my opinion, is that you have a great bank willing to spend money to make residents happy and a great mayor.”
Donnell said Mayor James Davis and his department heads have been “extremely” helpful with getting the project off the ground.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.To comment on this story online visit www.hudsonreporter.com.