With a new name and with site work already underway, the highly anticipated amphitheater at Richmond’s downtown riverfront is now officially under construction.
Developers of the now-named Riverfront Amphitheater gathered with a crowd of city leaders and supporters Wednesday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction of the $30 million venue on the Tredegar hillside.
Speakers included Coran Capshaw, the Dave Matthews Band manager and music industry executive whose Charlottesville-based Red Light Ventures is developing the 7,500-capacity amphitheater.
Capshaw, a Virginia native, led the development of the 3,500-seat Ting Pavilion amphitheater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. His Red Light Management group also co-manages the 6,800-capacity Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.
Standing uphill from the Riverfront Amphitheater site, Capshaw told the crowd: “It’s been a long road to get here.
“We looked at a lot of sites throughout the Richmond area, and ultimately this is the perfect site,” he said. “I’m confident that this will be a venue that will benefit the whole city and the metro area.”
The amphitheater is scheduled to open in time for the 2025 summer concert season and is planned to host about 30 shows per season. The venue is expected to create more than 300 jobs.
The venue will be operated by Capshaw’s Red Light Events and Live Nation Entertainment, the national concert promotion and ticketing company.
Live Nation, whose involvement had not previously been announced, will secure performers and promote shows in collaboration with Starr Hill Presents, Red Light Management’s promotional arm. Red Light Management is a primary owner of Starr Hill Brewery, which has an outpost in Richmond.
“We’ve wanted to bring more shows to Richmond for a long time now, and we’re going to have a venue that can host some of the world’s best artists while offering their fans a memorable experience right here in downtown Richmond,” said Kelly Flanigan, Live Nation’s president for the Virginia, D.C. and Maryland region.
Added Capshaw: “I’ve got a great partner in this with Live Nation. They’re the biggest concert promoter in the world, and they’ll be helping us bring a great, diverse group of artists to this site here that the whole community can embrace.”
Other speakers included City Council representative Ellen Robertson and Mayor Levar Stoney, who noted the economic impacts expected from the amphitheater. The venue is projected to generate over $30 million annually from operational spending and from concertgoers’ off-site spending in the Richmond region.
“This will open up the doors, and folks from as far as Northern Virginia and D.C. can come right to downtown Richmond and spend their money,” Stoney said. “And when they spend their money in this city, we have the ability to invest in the things that we care about: more affordable housing, more resources for our families, more investment in public schools, more investment in our roads.”
The venue is planned to use local vendors for food and beverage concessions and backstage artist hospitality programs, and it will feature Live Nation’s Green Nation sustainability program, which works to reduce single-use plastics and promotes recycling, composting and food donations.
Announced a year and a half ago, the development, previously called Richmond Amphitheater, has been several years in the making. It was given the green light last June, when City Council OK’d a performance grant agreement after coming to terms with the group in May.
According to the agreement, the city is providing a 20-year performance grant based on the new incremental real estate and admissions tax revenue generated by the project to help offset the project cost.
The venue will be fitted between the Tredegar Iron Works complex and the filled-in portion of the Kanawha Canal, which follows a curve in the hillside that forms an amphitheater-shaped footprint. Red Light is leasing the roughly 4-acre site from property owner NewMarket Corp., which is headquartered atop the adjacent Gambles Hill property.
The location was selected over other sites considered, including Brown’s Island, which was deemed too narrow, and the nearby Tredegar Green hillside site, which hosts a stage for the annual Richmond Folk Festival and once was floated for a smaller amphitheater project.
In his remarks, Capshaw thanked NewMarket Executive Vice President Bruce Hazelgrove and Chairman Teddy Gottwald “for offering this beautiful venue for the community to use.”
Capshaw also acknowledged Venture Richmond, which puts on the Richmond Folk Festival, Friday Cheers and other events on and around the site. The amphitheater is expected to serve the folk festival and also host civic events such as graduation ceremonies, public forums and city-sponsored cultural events.
As with the folk festival and Friday Cheers, existing parking in the area is expected to accommodate the amphitheater. A release distributed Wednesday notes that “thousands of downtown parking spaces are within walking distance” to the site, which also is accessible to public transit, ride shares, bikes and scooters, and the Downtown Expressway that connects with Interstates 95 and 64.
Site work for the project started last fall. Charlottesville-based Martin Horn is the lead general contractor on the project, working locally with downtown-based contractor Conquest, Moncure & Dunn.
Richmond-based 3North is the architect on the project, which also involves engineering firm TRC Cos. in Henrico. Local attorney Philip Goodpasture with Williams Mullen represented the group in negotiations with the city.
The amphitheater is expected to draw musical acts that currently pass over Richmond for venues in Charlottesville, Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia. Names mentioned at the event as currently performing in comparable venues across the country included Dave Matthews Band, Sarah McLachlan, Tyler Childers and Lainey Wilson.
Asked afterward which act would be the first to perform at Riverfront Amphitheater, Capshaw said, “We don’t know yet,” adding that it needs to be built first.
Addressing the crowd, Capshaw said, “With this gathering out here, I’m really grateful. You can almost feel the energy that’s going to come here in 2025.”