Get ready to rock, Coney Island!
After four years of planning and work, amid lots of patience from the community, the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk officially opened Wednesday, just before the arrival of a holiday weekend featuring acts that include Sting and The Beach Boys.
Those shows are just a taste of what’s to come at the 5,000 seat open air arena and residents and business owners say the venue will make the summer hotspot more of a year-round destination.
“It’s gonna bring great new crowds of people from sections of the city that normally wouldn’t come out,” said Chris Adams, manager of Coney Island Brewery. “[The theater] shows people this is a place of opportunity, this area is a cool.”
The amphitheater is part of a $60 million investment. The main stage is built into the southern side of the landmarked Childs Building. Two sliding steel doors open to bring in the outdoors during the warmer months, and shut to create a fully indoor space during the winter.
The Childs Building is also finishing off renovations on a new restaurant, with a 40,000-square-foot greenspace also set to open next year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who joined several Brooklyn leaders at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the amphitheater Wednesday, said the entire facility has been a boon for a community hammered by Superstorm Sandy.
“Coney Island has been a place that has worked hard and deserves a break,” he said.
Residents seem to be thrilled with the new boardwalk staple.
“It’s a good thing. They should bring more stuff to Coney Island,” said Melanie Moore, who lives in the Carey Gardens public housing complex.
Petrina Camilleri said she’s looking forward to some of the acts this summer, which include Jane’s Addiction, Erykah Badu, the Counting Crows and Willie Nelson, even if she doesn’t get a ticket.
“If I can hear it off the beach, I don’t need to see them,” she said.
Johanna Zaki, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island, added that the amphitheater is also a major component for the community’s longtime goal of having yearlong programming.
The city has been trying to get people to come to Coney Island outside the summer months and had limited success with events like the New Year’s Eve celebration at the parachute jump, which drew 15,000 people in 2014.
Zaki said she expects similar crowds for non-summer events at the amphitheater and residents agreed.
“More tourists, more people will come (here) instead of Barclays Center,” said Camilleri. “Coney Island has everything, and it’s getting better and better.”