As reported at Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Metropolitan Opera House on North Broad Street will be converted into a new 3,500-capacity Live Nation concert venue, with plans for the site to open to the public as early as December of this year. To complete the massive renovation project, Live Nation entered into a partnership with well-known Philly real estate developer Eric Blumenfeld. As detailed in the article, the cost of the renovation is now projected at $56 million, which comes in over $10 million dollars more than the projected total cost of $45 million announced in May of last year.
Notably, Bob Weir and other members of the Grateful Dead are investors in the project. This investment is not necessarily too surprising, given Weir’s and Live Nation head Geoff Gordon’s close relationship. In 2016, Weir officiated Gordon’s wedding to Sayeeda Gordon during a performance at The Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. As Live For Live Music has previously reported, the wedding took place during the set break of the show, which was a stop on Weir’s “Campfire Tour” promoting his solo album, Blue Mountain—in addition to the private nuptuals, the show itself saw sit-ins by Joe Russo and Tom Hamilton.
The Metropolitan Opera House is a large 3,500-person venue that takes up a full city block at Broad and Poplar Streets. For the renovation, the main theater will be converted for seated and standing-only general-admission concerts; however, the opera house also contains a number of smaller rooms that could be converted into lounges and additional performances spaces. With the venue’s opening anticipated for the end of 2018, no acts have been announced for The Met’s opening. However, in addition to concerts and, likely, comedy shows, Holy Ghost Church, a partner and former full owner of the space, will host services at the venue after its reopening.
As noted by Philly.com, in contrast to other mid-size concert venues around Philadelphia, The Met will be larger and “a good deal more posh” than venues like The Fillmore, Electric Factory, Academy of Music, and Tower, which house a capacity of around 2,500 people. The Met could also be a good fit for artists like Arcade Fire, Lorde, and Lana Del Ray who could easily sell out the renovated space and that have recently performed at a half-full Wells Fargo Center, which has a capacity of around 20,000 people.
The Metropolitan Opera House was formerly a historic world-class opera house, which was built in 1908 by the well-known theater impresario Oscar Hammerstein I—also the grandfather of the famed musical librettist Oscar Hammerstein II of the critically acclaimed composing duo, Rodgers and Hammerstein. While the venue was used as an opera house through to 1934, the renovation will mark the next evolution of the building, which has formerly been used as a movie theater, ballroom, sports venue, and church.
However, the renovation project will likely be a difficult one. The building was unused and vacant from 1988 to 1995, eventually being saved from demolition in 1996 by a different church group after the city declared the site was imminently dangerous. However, after Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival Center bought the church and spent $5 million dollars stabilizing the venue, the church group tapped Eric Blumenfeld for a development partnership and sold the building to him for $1. In 2015, the church filed a lawsuit against Blumenfeld for the lack of progress, though in 2017, the Holy Ghost Church and Blumenfeld reached a joint ownership agreement.
As Blumenthal stated last year about the Metropolitan Opera House, “It’s a glorious old building that had been neglected that anyone with any intelligence would tell you to tear down.”
With Holy Ghost Church, Blumenfeld, and Live Nation all on board and full steam ahead, the crew is hopeful that the renovation will be completed by December 2018, though already the expected renovation date has been pushed back from September 2018. You can watch the promo video for Live Nation’s new, renovated concert venue at The Met in Philadephia below.
[Video: The Met Philadelphia]