The new stage is the second phase of a major redevelopment of the south end of the Summerfest grounds. The project was designed by Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects and the general contractor is Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction Company.
The M&I Classic Rock Stage was a temporary facility that was built and torn down each year. It will be replaced with a new stage that could be considered the best on the Summerfest grounds.
“We love all of our grounds stages, but this is not just another grounds stage,” said Don Smiley, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee World Festival Inc. “This really takes it to the next level.”
“It’s going to be a spectacular new venue,” said John Boler, vice president of sales and marketing for Summerfest.
The new BMO Harris Pavilion will have 5,000 permanent seats in a below ground level seating bowl plus a standing room only area that can accommodate another 5,000 spectators.
The seating bowl will have 2,500 chair back seats with arm rests at the lower level and 2,500 bleacher seats with backs in the upper level. The chair back seats will be reserved seating after 7:30 p.m. each night of Summerfest, but the seats will be free to Summerfest patrons that pick up a Blue Circle Seat Pass for the area.
The BMO Harris Pavilion will have four bars, two in the seating area (including one right along the lakeshore) and two in the standing room only area. The standing room only area will also have a sit down restaurant along the lakeshore.
The BMO Harris Pavilion will also have new restaurants and video screens, including a 17- by 10-foot screen for the standing room only area.
The new stage will be covered by a roof, but will have open space to allow natural breezes in and to provide views of the lake.
“The vistas are truly amazing from this vantage point,” Smiley said.
Milwaukee World Festival officials consider the stage a major new lakefront landmark for downtown Milwaukee, joining the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World and the Marcus Amphitheater.
“We wanted to reinvest in Milwaukee’s core asset, which is the lakefront in our opinion,” Smiley said.
The BMO Harris Pavilion will be booked for concerts and other events outside of Summerfest, Milwaukee World Festival officials said.
For Summerfest, the stage will no longer offer just classic rock and will now offer acts from a variety of genres.
2012 Summerfest BMO Harris Pavilion headliners:
June 27, Steve Miller Band
June, 28, Ben Folds Five
June 29, TBA
June 30, Scorpions
July 1, Chicago
July 3, Gavin DeGraw
July 4, David Gray
July 5, The Avett Brothers
July 6, Dennis DeYoung
July 7, Anthony Hamilton
July 8, B52s