Summerfest officials unveil newly renovated American Family Insurance Amphitheater

A view from the 300 level.

Last updated on June 29th, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Summerfest officials unveiled on Monday the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which has undergone a $53.1 million renovation over the past three years.

Officials say the upgrades will allow the venue to attract and accommodate higher-production shows, improve accessibility for concertgoers and increase the number of food and beverage options.

The grand opening of the redeveloped amphitheater was originally scheduled for summer 2020 but was delayed because of COVID-19. The facility will now officially open with a Foo Fighters show on July 30.

The renovation, which was privately financed, is the largest capital project in Summerfest nonprofit operator Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.’s history.

Major gifts came from American Family Insurance, T&M Partners, Rite-Hite, Continental Properties and Eppstein Uhen Architects. A total of 148 donors contributed to a $10 million campaign for the project. The remainder was funded through MWF reserve funds and commercial financing.

It’s part of a larger $160 million investment in capital upgrades at Henry Maier Festival Park over the past 16 years.

The project was completed in two phases. The first, which was completed in time for Summerfest 2019, included raising the roof by from 39 feet to 65 feet to accommodate large touring productions and more elaborate set designs, adding 19 dressing rooms and production spaces, installing a new removable stage, expanding the loading dock space for semis and tour buses, and adding six new video screens throughout the facility.

The second phase, which has been underway since summer 2019, included adding more than 20,000 square feet of concourses, adding entry ramps and new sidewalks to improve accessibility, adding seven new concession areas, and reconfiguring all-new seats (including the seating bowl and bleachers, along with the grass seating), adding and remodeling restrooms, and adding private VIP areas.

Eppstein Uhen was the project architect and Hunzinger Construction Co. managed construction.

“For more than three decades, this venue has hosted music’s biggest stars. Now that the renovation is complete, we are ready to host the next generation of music fans and bring a legendary lineup to a legendary venue,” said Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Some of the highlights of the upgraded facility include: 270 total ADA seats; 800 additional seats in the seating bowl; a removable and flexible stage that can be adjusted to different heights; seven new concession areas; a new elevator with access to all concourses; cupholders in the seating bowl seats, and double the number of restrooms throughout the facility.

During Summerfest 2021, the amphitheater will host The Hella Mega Tour, Luke Bryan, Chance the Rapper, Twenty One Pilots, Chris Stapleton, Jonas Brothers, Zac Brown Band, Dave Chappelle, Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion and Guns N’ Roses.

Outside of the Summerfest dates, shows at the Amphitheater are part of a preferred promoter agreement with Wisconsin-based concert promotion company Frank Productions, Inc.

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