HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The long-awaited Orion Amphitheater is hosting its first-ever concert on Saturday, May 7. Jake Owen will take the stage around 8 p.m.
News 19 circled the full site on Friday, as construction continued in the background.
“We’re trying to perfect it, there’s still dust and construction going on, but it’s being cleaned up in time,” Huntsville Venue Group CEO Ben Lovett said.
Lovett is also a member of the Grammy Award-winning band, Mumford & Sons. In an exclusive onstage interview with News 19, Lovett said he’s been in the business of creating venues for about six years.
“It’s like a different creative expression for me, and I see these buildings as kind of a multi-generational offering to live beyond my time,” Lovett said.
Lovett was accompanied on the site visit by Huntsville Venue Group President and CEO Ryan Murphy.
In an interview with News 19, Murphy said, “So here we are in the last 24 hours about to open this place, you know, and it’s going to be an ever-evolving, ever-evolving thing, which is exciting. “
Murphy told News 19 that the amphitheater can hold “7,800 to 8,000 people when fully filled.”
He said they put a lot of time and effort into designing the seating area, to make sure every seat had a clear view of the stage.
“We’ve done massive line-of-sight studies, to make sure there’s no bad place in the house,” Murphy said. “So no matter where you sit, you get a great vantage point. You won’t be blocked, you won’t just be able to see the lead singer. We’ll make sure you can see at least twenty feet into the scene from wherever you’re sitting.
He also said they want to make the venue a special place for musical artists and ensure they can interact with fans.
While speaking exclusively with News 19 on stage, Murphy said, “We’re lucky to be on stage right now and seeing from the artists’ perspective what they’re going to see.”
“I mean you see the guys who are the furthest away, who are working right now, you can see the smile on their face,” Murphy said. “Dave Matthews Band, Jason Isabell, Jake Owen, whoever here is going to see that same perspective and it’s a really unique thing.”
Attention to detail has gone into every aspect of the venue.
Backstage areas and artist rooms are filled with artwork and furnished with furniture to make artists feel welcome.
“I’ve had the pleasure of playing in over a thousand venues in my career and there’s probably only five places that have been successful as far as backstage goes,” Lovett said. “You have to think when you’re on the road for a year or two, it becomes your life. Either you’re on the tour bus or you’re in these rooms.
“Sometimes these rooms [backstage], are an afterthought,” Lovett said. “So what we want here is for the artists to have such a positive review of playing here, they’re actually telling the rest of the [musical] community about it.
The rooms even take into account the heart of Huntsville and NASA’s impact. Lovett said they were inspired by the design of the 60s and even bought real furniture that once stood in NASA offices.
In addition to vintage furniture, they’ll have several vintage guitars on hand, so musical artists can borrow them if songwriting inspiration strikes.
The venue also attempted to set itself apart from other concert venues, diversifying the concession stand areas. Each stand has its own theme and many focus on one type of alcohol. There is a whiskey bar, a gin bar and there is even a seltzer bar.
Near one of the stands closest to the seats, the Weeden Bar, beer prices range from $9 for a local beer to $14 for the most expensive IPA.
Ben Lovett said he hopes The Orion is a destination for people from all over northern Alabama, and even the Southeast region. He said Huntsville is a special place. “A lot of my travels have led me to believe that some of the best parts of America really are in some of the smaller towns,” Lovett said. “Los Angeles and New York are in the news, but people should take the time to visit Huntsville.”
Suggest a fix