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Construction on new concert venue in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill could begin this fall

A rendering of a proposed concert venue in Pittsburgh's Hill District
Live Nation
A rendering of the proposed 4,500-seat concert venue at the site of the former Civic Arena in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District.

The stage is set for work to begin this September on a new live music venue at the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District.

During an Urban Redevelopment Authority board meeting on Thursday, representatives from Live Nation, the national entertainment company, announced plans to begin construction on the indoor venue this fall. If all goes to plan, doors open in early 2026.

“It's creating a venue that's going to fill a missing piece for acts that don’t normally come to Pittsburgh,” said Craig Dunham, vice president of development for the Pittsburgh Penguins. “They are on their way to Chicago, or they're on their way to New York or Philadelphia and they don't come here.”

It’s a project that’s been in the making for five years and now has a groundbreaking in sight. The proposed indoor venue can hold up to 4,500 concert goers. The venue would be similar in size to Stage AE’s North Shore outdoor concert area with a 5,500 capacity, which regularly hosts national touring acts like The Flaming Lips or French Montana, who will perform there this summer. The new venue would be larger than the Roxian, in McKees Rocks, which has a 1,400 person capacity and is also operated by Live Nation. Roxian's upcoming shows include bands like the Volunteers and Spoon.

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The new facility adds to a growing lineup of concert venues in Pittsburgh. The Roxian opened its doors in 2019, as did an expanded and renovated Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall in Lawrenceville; City Winery in the Strip District opened in 2023 with a 350-person capacity. The Andy Warhol Museum’s proposed concert hall with space for 1,000 people — a major prong of the museum’s ambitious Pop District initiative — got final approval from the Pittsburgh Planning Commission last October.

Live Nation will build, own and run the venue alongside Fenway Sports Group, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ owner. Right now, the intended use of the old Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District is divided between this proposed concert venue and a parking garage. They plan to build the venue first and then work on the garage separately.

The total project is estimated to cost $64 million, and both Live Nation and FSG committed to employ a diverse workforce in its construction. So far, 53% of the project’s spending has gone toward contracts with minority-owned businesses.

Part of the deal with the URA is a $2 surcharge on every ticket that goes toward community development activities in the Hill District. Live Nation also agreed to book 25 events a year for five years at the New Granada Theater down the street.

Live Nation is soliciting bids for construction and final design and zoning approval for the project is set for later this summer.

Dunham believes this project will bring more people into the city. “It keeps the Lower Hill at the center of people's activities,” Dunham said. “You know, millions of people come in year in and year out — which builds on vitality, which builds on people coming and enjoying themselves.”