New amphitheater, gate to be built at Summerfest grounds

MILWAUKEE (WLUK) -- A new look is coming to Summerfest.

Organizers of the annual music festival along Milwaukee's lakefront announced some changes Thursday.

One of the biggest proposed changes is a new, 23,000-seat American Family Insurance Amphitheater to replace the current Marcus Amphitheater. Summerfest leaders say the new facility will include enhanced space for production, more restaurants, new bathrooms and hospitality areas. Plans call for the amphitheater to be built in 2019-20.

A new North Gate and community plaza are also in the works, intended to connect Henry Maier Festival Park to downtown Milwaukee and nearby development. Organizers hope to have the gate finished for the 2018 festival.

The projects need to be approved by the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Summerfest also announced that American Family Insurance has signed a 10-year agreement for naming rights to the festival.

“This partnership with Summerfest not only allows us to raise awareness and effectively market our brand to a large and enthusiastic audience, but gives us the opportunity to support a popular and enduring community event our customers from Wisconsin, and all parts of the country, look forward to each year,” Jack Salzwedel, American Family chairman, CEO and president, said in a news release.

“As a festival we rely on major corporate support to remain an affordable community celebration. American Family Insurance’s leadership provides the essential financial support for Summerfest to move into the next 50 years,” Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival Inc., said in a news release.

Also coming as part of Summerfest is a series of music education activities for Milwaukee students.

The 50th Summerfest is scheduled for June 28-July 9.

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