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Exterior view of venue (c. 2007)
|Address||909 Lake Shore Boulevard W.|
Toronto, ON M6K 3L3
|Location||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Owner||Government of Ontario (administered as an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture)|
|Seating type||Reserved seating, lawn seating|
|Opened||May 18, 1995|
|Construction cost||CA$15 million|
The Budweiser Stage, previously known as the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, is a concert venue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located on the grounds of Ontario Place, and hosts many diverse acts, including genres like rock, pop, country, and jazz. The first musician to perform here was Bryan Adams on May 18, 1995.
Ontario Place opened in May 1971 with the original Forum as one of the first attractions. The original structure consisted of a vinyl canopy, which was replaced by a copper canopy roof in 1978. Its unique configuration consisted of a round stage, which was upgraded in 1976 to include a revolving stage which slowly rotated before the audience, which completely surrounded it. The venue had a capacity of approximately 16,000 -20,000 concertgoers who crowded the four grassy hills and the lucky few who sat on the 2,500 bench seats under a covered roof.
Over the winter of 1994–1995, came the controversial demolition of the popular Forum and the construction of a larger venue on the site. The new venue cost CA$15,000,000 (equivalent to about $22,800,000 in 2018). In May 1995, the new amphitheatre (under the name of Molson Amphitheatre) opened with two Bryan Adams concerts before sold-out audiences. The new Molson Amphitheatre garnered positive reviews in 1995, winning RPM Magazine's "Best New Concert Venue" award.
In 1997, Rush performed two nights in a row at the venue on the Test For Echo Tour. The first night was filmed for would have been the band's first concert video released on the then-new DVD format, but it was scrapped. In a 2006 interview, lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee revealed that the DVD had to be scrapped due to issues syncing up the audio with the video, saying it would have cost the band over $150,000 and many man-hours to sync up a new recording with the footage. Although the full concert has never been officially released, much of the footage was eventually included in the Rush R40 box set released in 2014.
As of 2004, three million patrons have visited the venue.[needs update] The amphitheatre hosted Canadian rapper Drake's annual OVO Festival from its inception in 2010 until 2015. The Festival has featured performances by Drake, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and A$AP Rocky among others.
Van Halen performed two nights in a row at the Molson in August 1995; the shows were recorded for an unreleased live album. Depeche Mode performed at the amphitheatre three times: the first one was on June 16, 2001, during their Exciter Tour. The second one was on July 24, 2009, during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,128 people. The third one was on September 1, 2013, during their Delta Machine Tour, in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,110 people. The 2009 show was recorded for the group's live albums project Recording the Universe.
The music venue is open yearly from May to September, due to its outdoor configuration. The amphitheatre has a capacity of approximately 16,000. There are 5,500 reserved seats under the 60-foot-high covered roof, 3,500 seats under the open sky, and 7,000 seats on the grass bowl. The floor area (100 level) has an unreserved capacity of 1,000. There are also Club and VIP seats for season ticket-holders. Two large video screens flank the stage, while two video cubes hang from the rear of the covered roof for those sitting on the lawns. The video support system gives everyone in the audience a closeup of the performers on stage.
In 2011, a new open-air concert venue named Echo Beach was opened just east of the amphitheatre. This general admission venue has a capacity of approximately 5,000, which includes raised VIP viewing platforms.
Ontario Place revitalization plans
In 2012, the park at Ontario place remained closed with the intention of revitalization. A committee headed by John Tory has recommended the return of the Ontario Place Forum as a centerpiece of the revitalization plans. The Amphitheatre's future, as a result, has been called into question.
Other performing arts venues in the city include:
- Four Seasons Centre
- Massey Hall
- Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
- Roy Thomson Hall
- Toronto Centre for the Arts
- Howell, Peter (May 19, 1995). "Ontario Place roars towards 2000". Toronto Star. p. D3.
- Bliss, Karen (July 8, 2015). "The making of a landmark venue". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- Krashinsky-Robertson, Susan (January 6, 2017). "Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre to change name to Budweiser Stage". The Globe and Mail. The Woodbridge Company. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- Kennedy, John R. (November 21, 2014). "Molson Canadian Amphitheatre honoured at Billboard Touring Awards". Global News. Global Television Network. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- "Mettrum Originals Brings a Fresh Ingredient to Liven the Lawns at Molson Canadian Amphitheatre" (Press release). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Mettrum Health. CNW Group. April 26, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- "Ontario Place Forum". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. December 15, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- "Ontario Place website, About Ontario Place, Company Information & History, 1990's section". Archived from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- "Test For Echo Live – Rush". The Rush Forum.
- Abdigir, Ebyan (January 6, 2017). "Molson Amphitheatre renamed Budweiser Stage". Toronto Star. Torstar Corporation. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- "Calling Echo Beach". Toronto Star. April 29, 2011. p. E9.