Sky High Over NYC Venue's First Year
Rooftop at Pier 17 sells out most of Live Nation-programmed lineup
- by Brad Weissberg
- Published: October 3, 2018
The Seaport District's Rooftop at Pier 17 opened its doors Aug. 1. (All photos courtesy Howard Hughes Corp.)
The Seaport District’s Rooftop at Pier 17, a 1.5-acre open-air venue in New York City that sits along the East River with a stunning backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, opened Aug. 1 with a show by comedian Amy Schumer. It ends its inaugural season Oct. 13 with a concert by Mike Shinoda. By all metrics the first year at the venue was a smash hit: The venue has sold out 18 of the 23 shows Live Nation programmed for its inaugural run.
The facility's capacity is 3,506 standing and 2,250 seated.
Pier 17 is part of a $791 million renovation to the NYC landmark pier in downtown Manhattan.
The rooftop venue is part of a larger renovation of Pier 17 that cost $791 million,
according to Saul Scherl, regional president of the New York Tri-State Region at The Howard Hughes Corp., which funded the renovation and owns the NYC landmark.
"We are beyond pleased; we are ecstatic about the first year," he said. "We opened with a small, diverse group of concerts and were thrilled with the fan reaction."
The entire pier space is 349,000 square feet. Office space and high-end restaurants will join the rooftop venue next year. ESPN has signed as the first office-space tenant.
"We will have five unique restaurants starting with Joean-Georges Vongerichten, which will open in 2019. David Chang will open next, followed by Andrew Carmellini," Scherl said.
"It was a fantastic start," said Stacie George, senior vice president, Live Nation, New York. "It went better than we ever thought it would. We were impressed with the response from opening week. Amy Schumer sold out, then Kings of Leon sold out two shows. We couldn't have hoped for a better start to the season."
Pricing for the venue is "all over the map," she said. "On the lower end we had tickets at $35; on the higher end, Premium 1 tickets went up to $250. We priced it right for the New York audience."
The space offers food trucks — four of them brought onto the roof — VIP cabana lounges and an opportunity to watch the shows in a "cozy yet comfortable setting," Scherl said.
ShoP Architects designed most of the pier renovation, but the rooftop venue, which is quickly becoming known for its groundbreaking stage design called “dematerialized,” was created in collaboration with Symmetry Labs’ Alexander Green, he said.
Built in New York, the stage design is made up of 400 individual cubes composed of 150,000 controllable LEDS.
St. Lucia, backed by dazzling lighting and the NYC skyline, played Pier 17 during the summer.
"It creates a really unique dynamic," he said. "The cubes are transparent, and color plays a big part of the experience."
Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment, founded by former NFL executive Frank Supovitz, and Populous Events consulted on venue development from a patron flow perspective.
George believes the convenient location, about a seven-minute walk from major subway lines, make Pier 17 the perfect addition to the busy New York City live performance space scene.
"Downtown Manhattan needed a venue like this," George said. "It's unlike any venue the city had before we opened. The skyline views are incredible. Seeing a show with the New York City landmarks right in front of you is an incredible experience. The guests were thrilled to have us and so glad we built the venue."
The season at Pier 17 this year was a shortened season; organizers wanted to be sure the venue was ready before programming concerts. Next year, Live Nation will present the first show in May, nearly three months earlier.
"The demand was so great this year (that) we want to start much earlier to accommodate
all the fans," George said. "We plan to double the amount of shows next year."
George said that booking a diverse slate of genres was the key to making the venue work and that she plans to employ the same strategy for next year.
"It takes all different types of artists to please the varied tastes of the many different types of people in New York City that want to come out for a concert," she said. "I think our across-the-board approach was one of the reasons we flew out of the gate so strongly."
George said she also keeps in mind that there are "people of such different ages in the city, and we want to have something for people of every age to want to see."
Deadmau5 was one of the artists that played Pier 17 in its inaugural year.
This year's eclectic lineup included performances by Ziggy Marley, Deadmau5, All Time Low, Diana Ross and Dashboard Confessional. Coming up are 88rising, Slash, Pink Martini and Shinoda.
Shows go on rain or shine at Pier 17. "We had Sting and Shaggy a few weeks ago and it rained," said George. "We gave out ponchos. No one left or complained. It's part of the open-air concept experience and the fans go with the flow— they're New Yorkers, after all."
Sting and Shaggy played Pier 17 and, despite the rain, the fans loved it.
The venue also programmed free movie nights with movies such as "Sex and the City" and "The Greatest Showman" for the community.
Concessions are provided in-house. This year food selections "ran the gamut" from ceviche to pretzels, but hopes are to incorporate some of the tenant restaurants for next year, Scherl said.
Heineken, Pepsi and automobile brand Lincoln are venue sponsors.
"It's a one-of-a-kind venue," George said. "New York has never seen a venue like this, and after just the one year of operation, people are already calling Pier 17 an iconic venue."
- by Brad Weissberg
- Published: October 3, 2018