When we last left Freedom Hill amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Mich., the shed was closed under a mountain of litigation between Macomb County and former operators Hillside Productions. But, like the proverbial cat, the shed appears to taking on a new life with a June re-opening under new management and booking – including AEG Live.
With Lady Antebellum on the books for June 13, AEG Live has hit the bricks at the 7,200-capacity Freedom Hill, which has been closed since 2009. County and business leaders struggled to find “the right partners” to resurrect the venue, according to the Detroit News. According to Joe Vicari, one of the partners in the new venture, they have found the right fit in AEG Live.
“Really, the reason this is going to work is AEG,” Vicari told the News. “If we did not get AEG Live, (Freedom Hill) would not be opening.” Vicari is CEO of a local restaurant group and is working with Luna Entertainment CEO Tom Celani. The pair, joined by AEG Live senior VP Joe Litvag, hosted a press conference and luncheon at Andiamo’s restaurant in Warren, Mich., Dec. 4.
Hillside Productions is completely out of the picture, having agreed in spring to settle litigation with the county for $500,000.
Under its new ownership, Freedom Hill is to get at least $2 million in upgrades prior to a June 1 grand opening including technology, cosmetic improvements and “an overall enhanced customer service experience,” according to a statement.
“It’s rewarding to see a valuable community resource like Freedom Hill amphitheatre being put back into public use,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said. “We see the return of Freedom Hill to be a win for everyone. The public will have greater access to national entertainment opportunities, and local businesses will benefit from more customers coming to the area.”
AEG Live, according to the announcement, has inked a contract to do book 30-40 events and appearances during a June-September season. Funfest Productions of Mt. Clemens, Mich., will handle day-to-day operations.