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Jones Beach offers new alternatives to concertgoers

You don't have to sit in the stands to enjoy the show anymore.

Concert goers gather at the Citi VIP Club

Concert goers gather at the Citi VIP Club at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theatre prior to the start of the Pentatonix concert on the evening of August 15, 2018. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Monica Chan and Calvin Chiu wanted a relaxing night out together before the craziness of their upcoming wedding began.

The 29-year-olds from Mineola decided they would go to Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater to see singer-songwriter Calum Scott and a cappella singing group Pentatonix, but they didn’t watch from their seats. They looked on from the boardwalk in the Citi VIP Lounge, one of several areas that the amphitheater has been building up in recent years to offer fans different concert experiences.

“We like being on the water,” Chan said. “It’s so nice and breezy here.”

A DIFFERENT VIEW

“It’s not too crowded,” Chiu added. “And you get a different view.”

That’s music to the ears of Adam Citron, the venue’s general manager for Live Nation.

“We want to give our visitors different destinations here so that they can have the experience that they want,” Citron said. “Life is tough enough right now. We want to help them forget about that for a while.”

The Citi VIP Lounge and The Oasis have both been part of Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater for years. However, this year Live Nation added four more “destinations” inside the venue, designed, in part, to cater to younger concertgoers interests and millennials’ love of Instagram-able settings.

The new Lighthouse Pub, in the middle of the concourse, features replicas of the Montauk Lighthouse and the Fire Island Lighthouse for visitors to pose with. The pub also has TV screens showing the Yankees and Mets games for those who want to multitask.

“We have nothing like this in Sweden,” said Molly Persson, 19, as she relaxed in the Lighthouse Pub with her friend Moa Nystroem, 22, who both live in Lloyd Harbor now after moving to Long Island from Sweden. “There, we have the arena and we have the restrooms. We don’t even have food. This is so much better.”

The venue’s other additions are more hidden, though Citron said more and more visitors are discovering them. The Cove, near the main entrance, has a backyard feel, with wooden Adirondack chairs and a grassy area where people can play cornhole, while they enjoy food and drink from the concession stands.

SKY LOUNGE IS NEW

Sky Lounge Long Island is a new bar on the mezzanine level of the stands, where people can hang out and sit on bar stools to watch the show or look at views of Jones Beach and Zachs Bay. And The Taste of NY, tucked underneath the stands, has already had a famous visitor to see the laid-back bar, with its black leather couches and TV viewing areas. “Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo stopped in here when we opened it,” Citron said. “It’s part of his Taste of NY program, and we serve only beers and wines from the state.”

All these additions are part of a larger strategy from Live Nation Entertainment to generate more revenue from the amphitheaters it operates, including Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino recently told analysts that “I have even stronger expectations for growth [in] our amphitheaters.”

However, the importance of the new lounges goes beyond revenue. Citi marketing executive Jennifer Breithaupt said her company has sponsored the VIP area since 2012, using it for a variety of events. “The iconic venue is the ideal setting for us to enhance the fan experience on-site at an iconic venue adored by artists and music fans alike,” she said.

Deanna La and her daughter, Alika, were thrilled by their visit to the Citi VIP Lounge from their home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. “We like coming here,” Deanna La said, as they checked out the VIP area’s gazebo and took selfies. “We like it. There are no bad seats for a show. But this area? It’s like a different world.”

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