Freedom Hill Shuttered

There will be no summer season at the Freedom Hill amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Mich., after a battle over parking fees with county commissioners led to Palace Sports & Entertainment backing out of an agreement to buy the shed.

The venue sits on county property, and Macomb County’s recreation commission recently voted to collect 100 percent of parking fees at the venue, voiding an agreement to share the profits with its tenant. Venue owner Hillside Productions warned the committee that it was chopping off its own hand because the decision would ultimately lead to a shuttered amphitheatre.

At stake was a negotiation with PSE, which was in the process of a 90 percent purchase of Freedom Hill. The county’s shift on parking revenue would scuttle the deal, Hillside warned. When the commission refused to change its position, Hillside filed suit in federal court March 31st.

“Time is truly of the essence here,” Hillside spokesman Hank Riberas told Pollstar at the time. “We’re in April already and our season typically starts the last week of May or first week of June. You’ve got to get your bookings put together right now.”

Riberas was unavailable at press time, but he spoke to The Macomb Daily August 18th with an air of finality.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if the amphitheatre is padlocked very soon and tumbleweeds roll over continuously in the wind,” he said.

“As a result of the lawsuit, Hillside can’t complete their end of the transaction,” PSE spokesman Jeff Corey told the paper. “We can’t operate without that transaction being completed. That is all we are going to have to say about this matter.”

Some of the 35 to 40 shows that were on the books could move to PSE venues such as MeadowBrook Music Festival or DTE Energy Music Theatre, both in Oakland County, the paper said.

Freedom Hill has had a long and storied battle with the City of Sterling Heights and neighboring residents that ultimately landed the venue a $31 million settlement.

The city is currently suing its insurance carriers for the money it lost in the settlement, according to the Daily.