ArtsQuest Drops Venue Plan

A plan to build a 3,500-seat concert hall at the proposed SteelStax performing arts complex in Bethlehem, Pa., was dropped because a casino planned for the site has the same idea.

Officials with ArtsQuest, the nonprofit parent company of Musikfest, decided to scuttle plans to build Festival Hall after hearing of Sands BethWorks Casino’s concert venue about a month ago.

ArtsQuest Marketing/PR Director Kim Plyler said it’s still good news, no matter who builds it.

"We’re just happy that it’s going to be developed," Plyler told Pollstar. "We’re still moving forward on the first phase of our SteelStax project, which is a performing arts center and broadcast center."

The nonprofit’s plan was to build a venue where artists would perform in front of a clear glass wall with a view of the Bethelem Steel blast furnaces at the site along the Lehigh River.

The facility would have doubled as the new mainstage for Musikfest, the city’s annual free music event that attracts more than 1 million visitors a year.

Plyler said the Sands BethWorks plan is to build a multipurpose events center, with roughly the same seating capacity, that will be used for concerts, conventions and other events.

The SteelStax performing arts complex development will also include a 500-seat theatre, 300-seat Musikfest Café, movie theatre, retail shops, restaurants, and a National Museum of Industrial History.