PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The show may be over before it begins. There are serious concerns about when the Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion will be ready for the summer concert season.
The City Council liaison to the project, Councilman Bill Moody, has concerns, and the first concert of the year scheduled for June 20, Styx, has been canceled, And on June 21, Slightly Stoopid looks doubtful too.
Here’s what we know. Councilman Moody says the council is unsure when the pavilion will be ready. They were told by Chief City Engineer James Wright the new goal was to have the pavilion ready to go June 18, two days before Styx was scheduled to perform.
There is still a lot to do. The canopy isn’t up, nor is the new main support mast. The old support mast is still in position, but as we reported last May, there was a 10 foot crack in the main mast pole that is splitting apart. Somehow water got inside the mast and started degrading it.
“We are pretty sure water got inside the structure. It would freeze, thaw, then the pipe burst. We aren’t quite sure how much water is in it at the moment,” Wright said on July 6, 2018.
The City Council appears to be uncertain, Council is uncertain. Moody says if there is uncertainty, then maybe there shouldn’t be a season.
“If we have this uncertainty, yes, we can’t deal with the uncertainty … We may need to back off this season, yes. Once again it goes back to making sure the facility, all the pieces are back in place, the job is not rushed, we want to make sure the public safety element is 100% and make sure the facility is weather tested.”
10 On Your Side reached out to the concert promoter, Ken MacDonald, who is president of IMGoing. He sent this message: “In conversations with the City, I don’t have enough information to make a decision. The City is in complete control of the venue.”
Moody said MacDonald has proposed a top-less pavilion for this year’s summer season, but that has drawbacks too. “The removal of the specialized equipment that is on site and the workers … there is a cost involved in that. We don’t know what that is at this point.”
Moody says Council doesn’t want to cancel the season, but it could come down to safety. “It we have a choice given canceling the season and ensuring the safety of the public — then safety wins out every time.”
In a hastily called news conference, City Attorney Solomon Ashby announced the pavilion won’t be ready by June 18. “The purpose of this conversation is to make sure the public is aware that it will not be completed on time and conversations are going forward with IMGoing.”
But Moody goes further. He’s unsure it will be ready by August, giving council members the thought of canceling the season. “I think that is probably the consensus, given the information coming in from the people doing the work along with the input from the city engineer.”
On Thursday night, pavilion officials denied that any concerts have been canceled at this time, writing on the venue’s Facebook page: “Thanks for your continued interest in and support for our 2019 concert season. No shows have been cancelled. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, go to pavilionconcerts.com. We will keep you notified of any changes.”