After months of speculation, Live Nation has offically taken over operations at the historic Queen Theatre in Wilmington.
Elected leaders, including Gov. John Carney and Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, and the Buccini/Pollin Group welcomed the largest live entertainment company in the world to the concert venue at 5th and Market streets in downtown Wilmington.
“This is a really big deal,” said Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware. “What we need to do to make our state stronger and better than ever, all the different pieces are connected, and it starts with revitalizing the city of Wilmington.”
“I look up and down this Market Street and just think how beautiful it is and how really spectacular it’s going to become. And it is this far away, we just need a nudge, we’ve got some great things happening,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.
Wilmington developer, Buccini/Pollin Group, owns the building housing the Queen Theatre. BPG Co-President Chris Buccini said Live Nation signed a 10-year lease and will have total control of the entire venue.
“They really know this market and they’re 100 percent convinced that we can get more events here and bigger events here as well,” Buccini said.
“Our company has a history of doing business in Wilmington and we know that people come out for shows. They really like music, so if we can give them something they want to see, they’ll show up,” said Michael Grozier, executive vice president of clubs and theaters for Live Nation. “There’s just so much enthusiasm, passion and love for the city and I think the combined city energy around ‘let’s build this together’ was really intoxicating for us.”
Earlier this year, Hal Real, founder and president of World Café Live, announced it would close its doors at the Queen in May, six years after opening in Wilmington.
Real oversaw the landmark building’s $25 million renovation from the very beginning. The Queen reopened in April 2011, as part of a larger effort to revitalize downtown Wilmington.
“This would never exist if not for Hal Real,” Buccini said. “When this was a falling down building that had been vacant for 50 years, he had the vision to really come in and he had the guts and the entrepreneurship to do it.”
“When the opportunity came to build on what Hal had started, we thought it was a great opportunity for Live Nation. We thought it was the right time for us to come to Wilmington,” said Grozier, who added renovations to the space are underway.
A bar is being built at the front of the building with a wraparound patio for people to lounge inside and outside prior to the show; a new restaurant partner, yet to be named, will come into the venue; chandeliers and new paint are also among the other expected changes. Around the main stage, there are also new glass panels depicting mainstream acts like Adele, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj.
“We embrace a lot more genres so we’re expecting to bring shows down here that people haven’t seen before. We’re expecting a little more country, a little more R&B, certainly classic rock, rock,” Grozier said.
Grozier also said the Light Up the Queen foundation has Live Nation’s full support with Tina Betz at the helm.
“We hope to help them grow that piece of it and do more for the youth of Wilmington,” Grozier said. “We’re big community participants and if we can help get another instrument in another kid’s hand and make another musician for tomorrow we’re all about it.”
Tickets are on sale already for future shows, including Cheap Trick, Jim Breuer and Third Eye Blind.