Although it may look like a single large building at first glance, the newly opened Stage AE amphitheater on the North Shore has not one, but three facilities.
Stage AE opened unofficially with a community open house on Dec. 1, which featured local band Muddy Kreek Blues Band. Girl Talk officially opened the venue to the public with two shows on Dec. 3 and 4.
With the lift of a door or the pull of a few curtains, the unique, somewhat industrial-style complex situated next to Heinz Field can provide the best type of atmosphere for the show at hand.
Inside Stage AE, visitors find room for up to 2,400 people. The spacious first level offers a large standing-room only area, with a bar and concessions stand towards the back.
The upper level provides general admission bleacher seating as well as a row of VIP boxes. The VIP seats include access to the private Lounge AE and come complete with concierge and wait service.
In the event of an outdoor concert, a huge black door behind the stage lifts up and a curtain drops across the middle of the complex, revealing an outdoor space for up to 5,500 people.
Lastly, the back of Stage AE becomes smaller with the aid of wooden panels, creating a space for up to 350 people. This more intimate area, called Club AE, will feature a raised stage for smaller bands.
The backstage of Stage AE comes complete with a media room, a possible meet-and-greet area, dressing rooms and a kitchen for performers.
The new concert venue is a joint venture between Ohio-based PromoWest Productions and the PSSI Stadium Corp, with American Eagle as the name and title sponsor.
Stage AE Operations Manager Pat Lucas said the amphitheater will attract visitors largely between the ages of 16 and 34, which is also the target age group for American Eagle’s clothing lines.
Although the concept for Stage AE formed around 10 years ago, movement on the project didn’t pick up until mid-2009. Construction began on the North Shore in the spring of 2010, adding Stage AE to a list of four other PromoWest Productions venues, all located in Columbus: the LC Pavilion, Newport Music Hall, the A&R Music Bar and The Basement.
Lucas said PromoWest Productions was able to take advantage of 10 years of experience with a similar venue, the LC Pavilion, learning what worked and what did not.
According to marketing director Amy Cooper, the venue’s goal is to host around 100 shows every year. Some of the shows have already sold out — those hoping for Wiz Khalifa tickets for his upcoming performance Dec. 16 may have to wait for his next appearance at the North Shore’s newest entertainment venue.
Tracy Patinski is a full-time graduate student in Carnegie Mellon’s professional writing program and currently interns with The Northside Chronicle.