Home Infrastructure Former Verizon amphitheater gets new life under church

Former Verizon amphitheater gets new life under church

Concerts will be geared to school, community events, pastor says

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The Selma City Council in November approved a special-use permit so River City Community Church can utilize the former Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, which it owns, to hold community-enriching concerts. Photo by Collette Orquiz

SELMA — The open-air music venue once known as the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater will begin hosting concerts again, but don’t expect any headbanger extravaganzas.

During a Nov. 8 meeting, the City Council unanimously granted River City Community Church, the site’s owner, a special-use permit to conduct musical, educational and social events.

The Rev. Sean Azzaro quickly shot down any notion the church is entering the live-music business or would host the high-profile acts that electrified crowds during the amphitheater’s heyday.

“We are not Live Nation (concert promoter) and we are not interested in running a full-on commercial enterprise,” he said. “We are a church and we are a school. We want to be able to utilize it for concerts and we want to utilize it for school events, civic events … a resource for our community.”

River City Community Church purchased the 109-acre property from Live Nation in 2011. Clear Channel Entertainment in 2001 opened the locale, which can accommodate 20,000 audience members. It was then taken over by Live Nation and put on the market in 2007.

Acts ranging from Rod Stewart and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to numerous heavy-metal bands, Depeche Mode, Keith Urban, Pearl Jam, Evanescence and others have performed at the amphitheater.

Azzaro and City Manager Johnny Casias told neighborhood leaders any sounds from the amphitheater would be within Selma’s noise ordinance. Concerts must end by 11 p.m. to avoid violating local laws, town officials said.

Councilman Kevin Hadas is confident the church will cooperate with the community to mitigate volume issues, despite some initial concerns.

Future concerts at the amphitheater in Selma will not violate city noise ordinances, say owners at River City Community Church. Plans call for the promotion of school and civic events. Photo by Collette Orquiz

“I believe that the church and the pastors and the people running the venue have done a wonderful job working with our city,” he said.

The owners will be selective with the type of concerts the amphitheater hosts, Casias said.

“It is not the intent of River City Community Church to return the amphitheater to its original heyday of hosting three-day music festivals with 20,000-plus person concerts,” he said. “Instead, the aim is to see how a restored amphitheater can fill a void left by its closing and find a new path which serves the needs of the church and the community.”

The timing of the reopening comes just a few months after the announcement of another amphitheater expected to launch just down the road in Schertz. Operated by EVO Entertainment Group of San Marcos, it could debut sometime in 2019.

Part of a comprehensive cinema and recreational destination, company officials said the Schertz site will hold up to 15,000 audience members.

Mayor Tom Daly isn’t worried about the Schertz amphitheater’s proximity to Selma’s.

Instead, he’s focused on the lifestyle improvements the concerts will provide to his community.

“We (as council) have sat down and said this is the best plan we can do to make everything right (for our residents),” he said. “We are a very well-diversified city and quality of life is the biggest thing on our agenda to make sure everyone is staying here and spending money. Everybody is gravitating to the Northeast-Northwest area of San Antonio. This is a great place to be.”

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