Concerts at the RiversEdge amphitheater in downtown Hamilton will resume on July 4, with varying degrees of social distancing, the latest move by a large public venue attempting to find options for holding events through coronavirus concerns.
People willing to pay more money for the outdoor shows can have more social distancing for themselves and their friends, while those wanting to economize can have less space.
“At reduced capacity, there is no feasible way for us to do RiversEdge as free admission this year,” Adam Helms, the city’s Director of Resident Services, told Hamilton City Council on Wednesday. “It’s really unfortunate. People have come to expect RiversEdge concerts to be free. When capacity restrictions are lifted by the state of Ohio, we will return to free concerts.”
The venue will have eight-foot-by-eight-foot squares — the size of two pieces of plywood next to each other — spaced eight feet apart.
Originally, the city planned to limit each square to four people, each sitting at a corner of the square, Helms said, but some expressed concerns about the cost.
“We intended to sell the squares for $40 to $100 per square, depending on who’s playing,” he said.
If nine people are in an eight-by-eight-foot square, they are sitting immediately next to each other’s chairs, Helms said, showing a photo of people sitting in chairs in such a square.
“We believe that it’s feasible to put nine people in an eight-by-eight square for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being it increases our capacity, it allows more people to attend, and it also brings down the cost of admission,” Helms said.
A family of four might have had to pay $10 apiece for a show where a square costs $40, but if there are nine people, the per-person cost drops to $4.44.
“And that’s the other beauty of the square concept: If you don’t feel comfortable sitting nine people in a square, you don’t have to,” Helms said. “You can buy a square and you can come by yourself, or you and your significant other. You can sit as close or as far apart as you like in that square.”
Only one person will buy each square, Helms said.
“It’s up to them to invite up to eight other people to attend with them,” he said. “The beauty behind that concept is they’re your friends. They’re your family. You’re not knowingly going to invite somebody who’s sick to come sit next to you at a concert.”
On an illustration he showed to the council, about 74 squares were spaced 12 feet apart. But on Thursday he planned to go and mark of squares eight feet apart instead. State guidelines, he said, require they be at least six feet apart.
People will be able to watch from Marcum Park, in areas beyond the amphitheater area.
Signs will encourage people to wear face masks, and beverage stations will have markings showing people waiting in line the distance they should stand from each other. Portable toilets will have hand sanitizer, and there also will be sanitizer stations.
“This is our best effort to bring live music to Hamilton in some form or fashion,” Helms said.
Tickets will be sold online, and Helms has applied for a grant for a large video screen and cameras so the concert can be seen by people in Marcum Park beyond the amphitheater area free of charge. Even if the video screen can’t be purchased, the hope is that people will be able to watch free from home, he said.
“Thank you for thinking out of the box, for our city,” Council Member Tim Naab told Helms.
More concert announcements will come soon, Helms said, including two bands joining the July 4 lineup. Two bands also haven’t been announced yet for Aug. 15.
“Tickets will be available online,” Helms said. “If you’ve purchased VIP tickets for RiversEdge in the past, the RiversEdge website is riversedgelive.com. We will do our best to put the word out there when tickets are going on sale for certain shows. We feel that’s the fairest way to do it.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.