Live Nation Takes Over Philly's The Met

Historic Philadelphia Opera House to get long overdue makeover

  • by Noelle Leavitt Riley
  • Published: May 17, 2017

Rendering of the soon-to-be new and improved Philadelphia Opera House (The Met).

The historic Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, is about to get a much-needed facelift after a big-time developer decided to invest millions into renovating the structure that was built in 1908.

Slated to open at the end of 2018, Real Estate Developer Eric Blumenfeld has partnered with Live Nation to manage the 3,500-capacity venue that takes up an entire city block. 

Roughly $45 million will be invested to resurrect a building that has “the best acoustics on the East Coast,” said Geoff Gordon, regional president of Live Nation.

“The venue and the bones of it are remarkable,” Gordon told Venues Today.

The structure was built by Oscar Hammerstein and became dormant in the late 80s and mid 90s before a church moved in.

Now, the opera house — located on the bustling redeveloped North Broad Street — will be restored by Blumenfeld’s EB Realty Group to its original structure along with all the bells and whistles needed to host concerts and entertainment acts.

“I am over the top, beyond belief excited,” Blumenfeld said about the 110,000-sq.-ft. structure. “Words cannot describe my level of excitement. I have been working on this project for a long, long time.”

Renovating the building and giving it “the respect it deserves” brings out the passionate developer-side in Blumenfeld.

He feels The Met’s facelift will add to all the other efforts — and money — he’s put into North Broad Street, which includes the redevelopment of old factories and the Divine Lorraine Hotel, which is three-and-a-half blocks from the opera house.

Management of The Met adds to the list of venues Live Nation oversees in Philadelphia.

“The city is absolutely growing by leaps and bounds,” Gordon said. “With the addition of the Fillmore Philadelphia, the comedy club and the Tower Theater, this venue (The Met) fits right in line with our other venues.”

Economic drivers in Philadelphia include Comcast housing, its national headquarters in the city, as well as many young adults moving downtown, Blumenfeld said.

“Philadelphia has really been on the rise as a city for the last 10 years,” he said. “More and more people are wanting to live downtown. If you compare us with other major metro areas, the quality of life is really amazing.”

Much of the success of North Broad Street, in particular, is credited to Blumenfeld’s dedication to revamping old, shut-down buildings into apartments and restaurants.

“Twelve years ago, when we started developing on North Broad Street, there were factory-type buildings and we made them residential communities,” Blumenfeld said. “These are buildings that were basically vacant for 10 to 20 years.”

Many of those vacancies now have mixed-use development, including retail, residential and dining.

“We have continued to outpace other cities in creating a really great dining scene,” Blumenfeld said, highlighting that he spends a good chunk of his time working with restaurateurs and chefs trying to find the perfect structural fit for new cuisine offerings.

“When you think about great neighborhoods, they’re about people, they’re about nightlife and restaurants and entertainment,” he said.

As such, Philadelphia also has turned into a city that musical artists want to visit.

“There was sometime ago when Philadelphia used to be a ‘maybe’ stop (for artists), then it was a ‘yes’ stop, and now it’s a ‘definitely’ stop,” Gordon said.

Both Gordon and Blumenfeld feel the booking power of The Met will be super strong.

“What we’re doing is giving people a reason to come and visit,” Blumenfeld said. “How do you reimagine a guest experience by just going to a concert? That’s what we’re trying to create.”

 

  • by Noelle Leavitt Riley
  • Published: May 17, 2017