The Gibson Amphitheatre, a popular concert venue since opening in 1972 as the Universal Amphitheatre, will be leveled as early as October to make way for a Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.
It’s been presumed for months that the iconic amphitheatre would need to come down, since NBCUniversal has been saying that its joint-venture attraction with Warner Bros. called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was to be built at the north end of the park, which is where the amphitheatre resides. On Wednesday, the decision was made formal.
“This fall, a celebrated chapter in Los Angeles’ rich musical history will come to a close when the Gibson Amphitheatre shuts its doors in September,” NBCU and Live Nation said in a release Wednesday. Live Nation leases the 6,200-seat amphitheatre from NBCU.
Live Nation is organizing a special “finale” concert on or about Sept. 6 (acts have yet to be announced) to celebrate the 41-year-old venue, but details still are being worked out.
Insiders say employees of Live Nation and NBCU were notified Wednesday that their positions were being eliminated, but many of those who work at NBCU will get jobs elsewhere in the theme park.
The theater was renamed the Gibson Amphitheatre when it acquired naming rights in 2005. Gibson will surrender naming rights when the venue is shuttered, but NBCU did not say whether the guitar and musical instruments retailer was due a partial refund.
In its storied history, the amphitheatre attracted the biggest names in music, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and The Beach Boys. Contemporary artists included No Doubt, Bruno Mars and One Direction.
Odder moments through the years have included Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull complaining of a sore throat then jumping off the stage and taking a marijuana cigarette out of a mouth of a fan in the front row. A chair fell from the catwalk and severely injured a concertgoer during a Donna Summer show, and Rick Springfield fell flat on his back while leaping through the air just after a screaming girl threw a cup of water onstage.
The amphitheatre also has been host to the MTV Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, and such comedians as Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal performed on its stage. Five U.S. presidents also have appeared there.
Live Nation said that shows planned after the amphitheatre closes will be rescheduled at different, nearby venues, and tickets purchased will be honored or refunded.
The official decision to close the amphitheatre comes a day after NBCU received permission to get started on a $1.6 billion “Evolution Plan,” which includes the Harry Potter attraction as well as improvements to the film studio, more parking and the possibility of a couple of hotels.