Renovations at the Jones Beach Theater bring in new decor, food and beverage options to guests. NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano repots.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Concertgoers at Jones Beach are in for a different experience after an ongoing multiyear renovation process that includes a new entrance, better seating, shorter restroom lines and easier access for performers. 

Marking the 72nd anniversary of the Jones Beach Theater, now known as the Northwell at Jones Beach Theater, the venue unveiled the latest set of renovations to the multimillion dollar project Thursday.

The official reopening is Saturday, with the Outlaw Music Festival featuring Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan at 5:30 p.m. Organizers said Long Islanders will see the difference right from the start. 

“When they park their car, they’ll see an amazing entranceway [and] an amazing difference on how they are processed through that entranceway,” said George Gorman, regional director of New York State Parks.

There were also major upgrades to the theater's interior. The venue’s courtyard was expanded, and concession and restroom facilities have been upgraded. More upgrades are scheduled in the future but those unveiled Thursday are considered among the most significant, organizers said.

Tom See, head of Live Nation Entertainment, the company that partnered with the state parks department to do the renovations, said they have tried to address long lines in restrooms and concessions.

“We've increased our restroom size by 20% and we've increased our food and beverage offerings by 30%,” See said. “We want them to enjoy the show, spend less time in line, [and] be able to relax with their friends and family while they’re here.”

Renovations also included a new open-air patio, merchandise stands, a two-floor VIP club and upgrades to seating.

A new VIP club added to the renovated Northwell at...

A new VIP club added to the renovated Northwell at Jones Beach Theater, as seen on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

“As part of the reconstruction of the main seating section, 7,000 seats were replaced,” Gorman said. “And they've added amenities for the performers and their roadies.”

Gorman said the venue was originally not designed to handle the load-in and load-out process of setting up a performance. With the upgrades, Gorman  said the theater has been redesigned to accommodate tour buses and tractor trailers so they can go in and out of the venue more efficiently.

Since the beach is on the National Register of Historic Places, designers worked closely with the Historic Preservation Office to re-imagine the venue, Gorman said.

“It’s iconic Jones Beach, that surfside beach side look and feel,” See said. “So you've got the vintage type of lettering that's out here, we wanted to make sure that we kept that history in place.”

The theater opened in 1952 as Jones Beach Marine Theater with 8,200 seats, Gorman said. It underwent extensive renovations in 1991 and 1992, adding a second level and increasing the capacity to 11,200 seats. The capacity was expanded again in 1998 to nearly 15,000 open-air seats.

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