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Local Business Fears Newport's New Music Venue, Cincinnati Does Not

Ambriehl Crutchfield
The Ovation music venue will sit on 25-acres in Newport.

Newport's $40-million music venue could put a local business in jeopardy.

Ovation is an indoor/outdoor music venue that will sit on Newport's riverfront across from Cincinnati's planned music venue at The Banks.

Big Daddy's Liquor store sits diagonal to the future attraction. "It's kind of frustrating because we have been trying to renovate the place," supervisor Kaushal Patel says. "But if they are going to push us out of here there is no point." He says his father has owned the business since 2001.

"This is going to be done in phases. So, we are going to have to cross that bridge when the time comes," city manager Thomas Fromme says about the uncertainty.

Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU
Big Daddy's Liquor store sits diagonal from the future attraction.

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso says decrease in population, aging infrastructure and lack of vision have been challenges for pursing this project.

The event space will host over 180 events a year. Covington-based Corporex is developing the space in conjunction with PromoWest in Columbus, and says the venue will accommodate 2,700 indoor and 7,000 outdoor concert-goers. Newport public officials say a pedestrian bridge will link to restaurants, nightlife and other entertainment.

A parking structure will hold 550 cars below the mixed-use development.

Cincinnati is at work on its own music venue directly across the river at The Banks. Commission President Denise Driehaus said in a statement that "an additional venue in Newport does not change our plans."

"We are totally committed to moving forward on the music venue at The Banks," the statement reads. "The venue fills a niche in our market, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who will patronize the retailers and restaurants at The Banks." 

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley was more outspoken about the news from his city's neighbor. "I publicly advocated for PromoWest to be at The Banks and the county vetoed it," his statement read. "I also predicted that PromoWest would go to Newport and that is exactly what has happened. I'm sure Northern Kentucky is happy to have the venue and I don't blame them." 

He added that the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which is developing the Ohio venue, told him it remains committed to The Banks project, and urged the county to "stop blocking this music venue at The Banks from breaking ground." 

As of late, Cincinnati's progress on the venue has been stymied by land swap issues

Meanwhile, Phase One of construction in Newport will start once building permits are issued. The goal is for the amphitheater to attract over 350,000 to 400,000 fans.

Which could mean big money for the liquor store.

Developers are waiting to receive building permits before beginning the 25-acre project which is set to open in late 2020.