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Starwood Amphitheatre was the primary outdoor music venue in the Nashville, Tennessee area from 1985 to 2006. It was owned by Live Nation and had a capacity of 17,137. It had previously been owned by SFX Entertainment and Clear Channel Worldwide, both predecessors of Live Nation.
Located in the Nashville suburb of Antioch, the amphitheatre featured one large stage, a covered pavilion with reserved box seating, and an open-air grassy area for general admission seating. A much smaller stage was located near the venue's north entrance and usually featured local bands entertaining audiences as they entered the venue. For larger music festivals, a temporary third stage would be erected in a fenced area normally used as a parking lot.
Starwood regularly hosted most of Nashville's summer concerts featuring A-list artists from all genres of music. The typical season, which generally ran from April to October, featured 20 to 25 events.
Starwood was criticized for the lack of sufficient road infrastructure in the area. Though within two miles (3 km) of Interstate 24, Starwood was located along Tennessee State Route 171 (Old Hickory Blvd), a two-lane road in a primarily residential and industrial neighborhood. It was also located along U.S. Route 41 (Murfreesboro Road), a four-lane highway that does not intersect a freeway in the immediate area. Therefore, larger crowds would result in major traffic problems both before and after events.
Starwood Amphitheatre was not affiliated with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
After opening as "Starwood Amphitheatre" in 1985, the venue went through several name changes in its later years. Prior to the 1999 season, naming rights were sold to locally based First American National Bank for five years, and the venue was renamed First American Music Center. That October, First American National Bank merged into Alabama-based AmSouth Bancorporation. AmSouth agreed to assume the naming rights upon the merger, and after just one season with its new name, the venue was renamed AmSouth Amphitheatre in 2000. AmSouth declined to extend the naming rights agreement past the initial five-year deal, and without a new suitor, the venue reverted to its original name in 2004.
On February 13, 2007, Live Nation announced its intention to close Starwood Amphitheatre and cancel the 2007 season in anticipation of a potential sale, despite an earlier statement that the 2007 season would take place as scheduled.
Entertainment industry insiders blame the closing on Starwood's age and size, calling it a "first-generation" outdoor venue that was only about two-thirds the size of the ones being built today and one that lacked now-standard amenities for both patrons and performers, therefore not able to attract the top-tier artists who demand larger, more modern performance venues.
Starwood grossed only $4.6 million in ticket sales during the 2006 season and was one of four underperforming venues that Live Nation put up for sale following the season. Only two events were scheduled for 2007 before the announcement to close the venue: The Charlie Daniels Band's annual Volunteer Jam, and a Brad Paisley/Kellie Pickler show.
Demolition and beyond
The Starwood offices and concession areas were demolished during the last half of September 2007, culminating with the dynamite demolition of the stage, seating area, and dressing rooms on September 29, 2007.
Live Nation announced on April 30, 2007 that the buyer of the Starwood property is Vastland Realty Group. Plans for the site were revealed the following November, when Vastland announced a $100 million mixed-use residential and commercial development named "Starwood Commons" that will feature 350,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of retail space and 250 multi-level townhomes.
More than three years later, the site had not been cleared, and the landscape remained much the same as it did following demolition of the structures. In October 2010, the current owner of the site petitioned to allow live concerts on the site as the original development plans had fallen through due in part to the late-2000s recession.
In December 2010, a Nashville band named August Christopher performed on the rubble, weeds, and stage that remained, shooting a music video for their song "Down". Real estate developer Vastland Realty announced plans to return concerts to the site beginning as soon as Summer 2011 using a temporary stage and seating.
As of 2013[update], no construction progess has been made on the site, and it appears much as it has since its 2007 demolition.
- Underwood, Ryan (January 19, 2007). "Starwood Amphitheatre for sale". The Tennessean (Nashville, TN). p. E1.
- Underwood, Ryan (February 2, 2007). "If Live Nation can't revive Starwood, its future as venue seems dim". The Tennessean (Nashville, TN). p. E1.
- Underwood, Ryan (February 14, 2007). "Starwood closure is loss for music fans". The Tennessean (Nashville, TN). p. E1.
- Wetzel, Tim (October 14, 2010). "Owner Wants To Bring Live Music Back To Starwood". Nashville, TN: NewsChannel 5 WTVF-TV.
- Cass, Michael (November 8, 2007). "Starwood enters new phase". The Tennessean (Nashville, TN). p. A1.
- Lambert, Deanna (February 3, 2011). "Music Returns To Starwood Possibly By Summer 2011: Developers Say There Will Be Little Construction; Only Temporary Stage". WSMV-TV.