Monmouth Park readies new concert venue

An artist's rendering of the planned Monmouth Park Amphitheater, as seen from its lawn area.


An artist’s rendering of the planned Monmouth Park Amphitheater, as seen from its lawn area.

Promoter Jerry Bakal says you can expect to hear many different kinds of music, in many different settings, at the Monmouth Park Amphitheater in Oceanport, which officially broke ground for its construction yesterday and will start presenting shows around Memorial Day weekend. Certainly “adult” artists — the Jackson Brownes and Crosby, Stills & Nashes of the world — figure to find a home there, he says, but he’s open to booking any kind of music.

There will be 3,500 seats under a tensile roof, plus room for 4,000 more on the lawn. But that doesn’t mean each show will have a capacity of 7,500.

“For a lot of shows, we’ll close the lawn off, and not use the lawn.” says Bakal, whose Long Branch-based Thoroughbred Management company will operate the venue in conjunction with the national entertainment company, AEG. “We also have 1,300 seats which are folding chairs in front. They fold up and go underneath the stage, so we can have an open floor if the band wants it.”

There are actually four or five different configurations the venue can use, he says, and the 60-foot stage can accommodate anything except for the biggest rock tours. “But we’re not going to get that anyway,” he says. “Obviously the Rolling Stones are not going to play there.”

Bakal — a former co-owner of the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville who, in recent years, has been associated with the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank and the MAC at Monmouth University in West Long Branch — said he expects to begin announcing acts in early 2015.

The amphitheater, which will be part of the Monmouth Park complex, is designed to fill two needs: (1) It’s a way for Monmouth Park, which has seen declines in its horse-racing crowds in recent year, to attract more people and (2) it gives touring acts a Shore-area venue that is bigger than a theater such as the Basie, but smaller than the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.

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