Virginia Beach amphitheater to add free Wi-Fi for concert goers

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Dave Matthews Band performing at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach. (Photo courtesy of The Tide)
Dave Matthews Band performing at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach. (Photo courtesy of The Tide)

VIRGINIA BEACH — This year, the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater plans to improve connectivity for concert goers with new technology, including free internet.

Live Nation general manager Tabatha Webster presented a list of projects for 2017 to City Council at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

“With all the construction going on, we are in the process of upgrading our connectivity, because we are out of date,” Webster said. “We’re expanding our connectivity, which will give our fans free Wi-Fi throughout the venue, which we had not previously had.”

Webster said other connectivity improvements include new technology for servers in box seats, accepting mobile tickets and a new feature on Live Nation’s smartphone app that lets its users order drinks and food from their seats.

“You won’t have personal wait staff, but if you order a drink and a hot dog, you will have a server meet you at the end of your row and bring your food to you,” Webster said.

Entertainment and event company Live Nation manages the amphitheater, which operates as a public-private partnership with Virginia Beach. Under Live Nation’s lease agreement with the city, the city is responsible to fund 56.5 percent of the amphitheater’s agreed upon shareable improvement projects, according to Webster.

Ongoing construction at the amphitheater the city is invested in includes a new $400,000 production building and a $135,000 concrete and asphalt replacement project.

Since 2007, the Virginia Beach Development Authority has invested $1.3 million in structure and infrastructure improvements, according to Webster.

Webster said there are 22 shows booked at the amphitheater this year, which include a number of first-time performers like Chance the Rapper, Chris StapletonJoe Bonamassa and more.

“It’s hard to believe the amphitheater is about to go into its 22nd year,” Economic Development Director Warren Harris said. “If council really wanted to look toward a public-private partnership that’s done extremely well, certainly, this is a prime example.”

Councilwoman Shannon Kane asked what the amphitheater is planning to do to improve phone service at the amphitheater.

“Live Nation as a whole is looking into investing in a complete DAS [distributed antenna system] system, which would be open to all carriers to come in that Live Nation will implement to the venue,” said Webster. “That won’t happen this year, but that is on the calendar for potentially 2018.”

Last year, the amphitheater generated $1.84 million in taxes and rent for the city. Looking at the numbers, Councilman Ben Davenport asked Councilman John Moss if he agreed that this is a good example of a public-private partnership.

“In terms of net return, it didn’t reduce any property taxes, it didn’t reduce the personal property tax on my car, it didn’t reduce the 25-cent cigarette tax for breathing apparatuses and radios,” Moss said. “So in that sense, maybe not. But I will agree, not taking everything into consideration and putting that in a vacuum, yes.”

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