Barletta's Amphitheater Plan In Hazleton

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – A redevelopment plan for Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a project introduced by Mayor Louis Barletta, includes the largest amphitheater in the area, but has a few major holes that need filling first.

The town has conducted multiple surveys and studies to ensure that a new venue will be the best-serving and most profitable for the area. The shed will be the largest venue around, seating 16,000 under a roof, and up to 12,000 on a terraced lawn.

The studies showed that a smaller venue would not be profitable, as agreed upon by Richard T. Bryant, CEO of the Mountain Laurel Center in nearby Bushkill.

“Most commercial programming is based on the size of a basketball arena – 17,000 to 28,000,” Bryant told the Standard-Speaker. “They’re in the sweet spot for the big pop and rock ‘n’ roll acts available every year.”

The Mountain Laurel Center is much smaller, with only 2,500 seats under cover and 7,500 outside, and almost failed immediately upon opening. After closing briefly following its horrendous opening weeks, Bryant was brought in to guide the center through its first full season. He said that he doesn’t regard the possible amphitheater as competition, and would seek ways in which the two venues could cooperate.

“I view it as enhancement to the region that broadens the market for live entertainment acts,” Bryant told the paper.

The shed would see competition from a host of other nearby venues, however, including the Ford Pavilion at Montage Mountain, the Wachovia Arena, the PNC Bank Center, the F.M. Kirby Center, the Allentown and Bloomsburg fairs, and the Allentown Musikfest. Contracts between artists and venues often prevent them from playing at another venue within 100 miles, which will severely increase the competition to attract acts.

In Hazleton, a few obstacles stand in the way of building the redevelopment planned by Mayor Barletta.

In his project, Barletta has outlined a plan to fill hollow strip mines on the amphitheater site will sediment dredged from nearby harbors and rivers. The city expects to receive royalties for filling the dangers mines, but a group of area residents have expressed concern that the sediment might contain hazardous materials. The state Department of Environmental Protection will decide whether to permit the use of dredged sediment as mine fill in Hazleton after a public hearing scheduled for later this month.

In Barletta’s plan, he hopes that stores, restaurants and other businesses will develop alongside the amphitheater as they did in the Wilkes-Barre Township near the Wachovia Arena.
The Hazleton plan also contains a convention center that could operate all year and host events whose crowds would seem lost in the full amphitheater.

The full redevelopment plan would not begin until the mines have been filled, which would take approximately five years. Mayor Barletta said that developer Hazleton Creek Properties would oversee construction on the 253-acre Hazleton site. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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