Here’s a harbinger of both warmer weather and a post-pandemic future: An outdoor music venue is set to launch in Westville beginning with a show April 30 from jam band Gov’ t Mule.
The venue is called the Westville Music Bowl. It will occupy the old tennis stadium next to the Yale Bowl.
The latest renovations are being completed and concerts will begin in the spring.
“The Westville Music Bowl is the light at the end of the tunnel for large-scale events to return,” the venue said in a statement released Monday morning.
The first two scheduled shows will be headlined by Gov’t Mule on the evenings of April 30 and May 1. (Presale starts Wednesday at 10 a.m. here; general on-sale starts Friday at 10 a.m.
The new outdoor venue will be operated by the nonprofit NHCPA Outdoors LLC, a subsidiary of the New Haven Center for Performing Arts (NHCPA) Inc., which in turn owns the downtown College Street Music Hall. The team behind the venue hosted socially distanced outdoor concerts last summer during South Farms’ ‘Twilight Concerts on the Farm’ series in Litchfield County.
For this first season, the Westville Music Bowl will operate at a much reduced capacity – 2,000 – to comply with Covid-19 restrictions. Larger concerts will take place the following summer, when the capacity of some concerts could reach 12,000.
The Bowl plans to host acts in a range of musical genres from Americana and indie and classic rock to hip hop, country, neo-soul, R&B and comedy.
“Think College Street Music Hall, but bigger and outdoors and under the stars,” the statement read.
For this season’s concerts at the Westville Music Bowl, people can purchase blocks of two or four tickets. They will be seated six feet from other pairs or quartets of ticket holders.
“All the guests & staff will undergo a health check, including a temperature check and a short questionnaire before entering the site. Staff are required to wear masks at all times, while security will be on hand to enforce social distancing etiquette,” the statement read. He boasts that the concerts will feature “local cuisine, including offerings for vegans and those with dietary restrictions, plus a full bar with beer (local/craft, domestic and imported), wine, cocktails and soft drinks available. ”
The stadium itself was built decades ago, in time to host the August 1991 Volvo International Tennis Tournament. In 2019, the Tennis Foundation of Connecticut (TFC), which leased the land on which the stadium was built and the parking lot near Yale University, announced that it would no longer host the Connecticut Open there.
From the outset, part of the plan was to hold outdoor concerts at the tennis stadium. But when the tennis tournament took place, only a few weeks were available. Memorable concerts have taken place there in the ‘90s, however.
Decades before, some Westvillians railed against the occasional concert or planned concert (by Paul McCartney, for example) at the Yale Bowl itself. The fear was that the neighborhood would be overrun and the driveways would be blocked by cars parked on the lawns and side streets. But that’s because Yale Bowl concerts could draw 50,000 people or more.
Some neighbors again raised parking issues when the city considered and then approved the plan for the Westville Music Bowl in 2019. However, this time neighbors mostly went along with the plan to bring fun and vitality to Westville, with the possibility of walking to outdoor concerts. through national tours. Read all about it and the details of the plan in this previous article.
Neighbor Kate Bradley brought up the parking lot again when news of the Music Bowl’s impending opening broke at the latest Westville/West Hills Community Management Team meeting held online last week. . Bradley asked senior Westville cop Elliot Rosa how seriously the New Haven Police Department would enforce parking restrictions. Lt. Rosa responded that parking shouldn’t be a problem during concerts this year, when no more than 2,000 people will be allowed in the concert hall at a time. Yale Bowl parking lots would cover more than any overflow, he said.
The stadium was built to accommodate 15,000 supporters, so the existing car park far exceeds the planned capacity for this summer.
Westville Alder Adam Marchand chimed in to say that he and Upper Westville Alder Darryl J. Brackeen, Jr. have been working hard to alleviate neighbor parking issues at events at Yale Fields. He also plans to carefully review parking plans for the Westville Music Bowl, he said.
“We are thrilled with the Westville Music Bowl. It’s an incredible synergy with the growth we’re seeing in Westville Village in restaurants and new visitors,” Lizzy Donius, executive director of the Westville Village Renaissance Association, told the Independent.
Music Bowl attorney Steven Mednick represented the neighborhood as an alder during concert debates in the 1980s. He remembers attending concerts at the tennis stadium in the 1990s.
“When we were seated at the tennis center, I said it would be the best outdoor music venue in the state of Connecticut,” Mednick said. He can now see that prediction come true.