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Live Nation's Ben Weeden Discusses Renovating Denver's Summit Music Hall
Summit photo courtesy Tara Poysnick (@TTaraTT) | Twitter

Live Nation’s Ben Weeden Discusses Renovating Denver’s Summit Music Hall

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DENVER (CelebrityAccess) Live Nation Clubs & Theatres has announced it is is closing down Denver’s 1,100-capacity Summit Music Hall and 450-capacity Marquis Theatre to undergo renovations and upgrades.

The Summit is expected to close June 21 and open in September with expanded capacity of 1,350, an upgraded sound system, new and expanded restrooms and new dressing rooms. Marquis Theatre will shutter July 2 through Aug. 12 while improvements are made but Marquis Pizza will continue to operate.

Live Nation signed a leasing agreement earlier this year with Soda Jerk Presents to run the venues for 20 years while Soda Jerk still maintains ownership of the venues.

The venue is expected to reopen Sept. 6 with a show by STS9, the night before the band plays two back-to-back shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

We talked briefly with Ben Weeden, COO of Live Nation Clubs & Theatres, about the inspiration for the expansion and what exactly to expect when the building reopens.

Was it in dire need of a renovation, or did Live Nation just feel like sprucing it up?

I think it’s a nice way to spruce it up but I think the venue has a lot of potential in terms of the layout. I think the big thing is the ability to increase the capacity and also shrink it. We’re renovating, among other things, the mezzanine, which had somewhat limited the sightlines in the back of the house, and we’re moving some walls around, such that in the back of the house, with the increased capacity, the sightlines are better than they’ve ever been.

Obviously, the bathrooms were in need of upgrades. The sound system, just by the fact that it’s been there for a few years, needed an upgrade.

But I think, in terms of a fan walking into the venue, in September, the hope is you walk in there and it looks like a new venue. It’s going to be a lot more open. There are going to be a lot of areas that, in the past may not have had great sightlines, that will have much better ones. But there will also be brand-new areas that will be opening up that in the past didn’t have the ability to see the stage.

What do you mean by saying you have the ability to increase the capacity and shrink it?

Well, there will be the ability to cut the venue down. It’s become more flexible because of some of the walls that we’re moving and the columns we’re moving. As a result, we’re actually able to put more seats down if we’re doing comedy or a seated concert.

And, with a curtaining system, we’ll be able to flex down to 600 and it still remains intimate. Some other places it’s just too voluminous to cut down. This one can get nice and tight but can also expand because of the work that we’re doing to improve the sightlines.

Can you please elaborate on the venue’s background?

No problem! It’s been around for about 15 years, opening in 2006. Soda Jerk Presents, under Mike Barsch, opened it up. We’ve always had a really good relationship with Mike in Denver through our president there, Eric Pirritt. So, the conversations started to happen organically with Mike over the past couple years, with us eventually acquiring the venue but, to be perfectly frank and to give Mike the credit he deserves, he put this venue on the map.

There is and was a ton of volume going through that room, thanks to Mike. It was easily doing 300 events a year just in the Summit – the Summit not only has the main music hall but the the Moon Room, which is about 250 capacity, and we’re able to do the developing artists there. Between those two spaces, Mike was doing 300-plus shows a year there.

We’re just going to do our best to continue carrying the torch.

Anything in closing?

I think what we’re most excited about is obviously the increase in capacity but at the same time maintaining the flexibility and, also, I think with our touring division and our promoters in Denver, we’re looking forward to expanding the spectrum of genres that go through that room. As hard it will be to top the number of shows Mike was doing, I think between our team in Denver and our national touring team, we’ll see an increase in the number of events and the genre, and that’s exciting to us.

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