SCHERTZ — Nearly a decade has passed since the area saw an outdoor venue large enough to handle big music acts, but a San Marcos company is ready to change that with the construction of a 15,000-seat amphitheater.
EVO Entertainment Group, which is building a state-of-the-art movie theater, bowling, games and dining complex in Ranch at Old Wiederstein off of interstate 35, saw an opportunity for a massive live-music venue next door.
The new arena could help keep major open-air events from bypassing San Antonio for Austin, planners said.
There hasn’t been such a place locally since Clear Channel Communications’ spinoff Live Nation sold the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Selma to a real estate company, which later passed it to River City Community Church. Its seats and grassy slopes could hold a crowd of 20,000.
EVO CEO Mitchell Roberts, whose roots are in the movie-theater business, said music and other live entertainment have been a part of his vision for the company from the beginning.
“The (Interstate) 35 corridor, particularly the Schertz area, is absolutely exploding, but has a noticeable void when it comes to entertainment options,” Roberts said in a written statement. “EVO, EVO Live and the entire Ranch at Old Wiederstein development are primed to not only fill that void, but become a truly incredible entertainment destination unlike anything we’re currently seeing in Central Texas.”
He added, “This will be a landmark project not only for our company, but for the city of Schertz and the surrounding communities as well.”
Several months before EVO’s announcement of its new movie theater and bowling center near Interstate 35 and Wiederstein Road, San Antonio’s Santikos Entertainment launched a similar project on another corner of I-35 and Wiederstein in neighboring Cibolo.
Part of the larger Cibolo Crossing development, the 10-acre Santikos venture, slated to open in spring 2019, includes 10 theaters, 16 bowling lanes, live music, an arcade, dining and other amenities.
Meanwhile, EVO’s amphitheater will be 150,000 square feet on 27 acres, featuring several dining and beverage areas, private clubs and a “massive stage,” according to the company.
Roberts said an opening date hasn’t been set. Planning will include working with the city to keep volume levels from distracting nearby neighborhoods and accommodating the increased traffic flow.
“Noise was a concern that city officials voiced to us in the very beginning of the planning process, and a concern we took very seriously,” Roberts said. “Since then, we’ve engaged a number of acoustical engineers and audio designers to conduct sound-impact studies and design the audio systems to provide the highest quality sound for guests within the amphitheater itself while not disturbing surrounding residential areas.”
City officials said the project hits all the right notes.
“We were excited when we learned about the EVO Live concept, as bringing more entertainment has been something we have been focusing on,” said Kyle Kinateder, executive director of the city’s Economic Development Corp. “We look forward to talking more with the developer about their vision for this project, which has the potential to have such a positive impact on our community.”
Roberts estimates the site could increase the number of visits to Schertz by an additional 2 million a year.
The closure of the Verizon Wireless concert space wasn’t a reflection of the market for big outdoor concerts, officials said. Some of music’s biggest names, such as Tom Petty, Brad Paisley, Depeche Mode, Foreigner, Katy Perry and Willie Nelson performed there.
The venue also was a popular stop on heavy-metal tours thanks to San Antonio’s well-known penchant for the genre. Its last major music event was the Mayhem Festival in August 2009, according to setlist.fm.
However, Live Nation, now merged with Ticketmaster, was selling many countrywide assets as part of restructuring following its spinoff from financially struggling Clear Channel. The company leased the facility to Stream Realty with an option to buy. A contractual caveat, typical in preventing competition against the seller, prohibited the space from being a live-concert venue for seven years after the deal.
River City Community Church at Redland Road and Loop 1604 was growing and attempted to buy the property in 2009, but financing didn’t materialize. The price kept dropping, and the church returned with another offer in 2011. Stream Realty then made the transaction.