For many, it was a milestone in the revitalization of Coney Island. For one person, it was a dream come true. Former Borough President Marty Markowitz saw his vision of building an oceanside concert venue realized Wednesday when officials held a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Coney Island Amphitheater.
“Would I have wanted it bigger? Sure,” Markowitz said while standing on the site of newly-constructed 5,000-seat amphitheater. “But it’s a dream come true. It completes the realization that Coney Island is America’s playground. And it ensures the music will always be part of the attractions.”
Markowitz didn’t share the stage with elected officials and business executives during a press conference at the ceremony. But he was repeatedly recognized as the project’s visionary and champion.
“There is a place in this world for sheer force of will. And for vision and for love of your borough and your people. So, my dear friends, let’s thank Marty Markowitz,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “You kept coming back year after year with those wonderful concerts. And you wanted something even more.”
Markowitz, whose push for the new amphitheater was not without controversy, envisioned it as a permanent home for his annual Seaside Summer Concert Series. He explained that weather was the catalyst for his desire to to create an entertainment space in Coney Island.
“From day one, we wanted it covered because I would start out all day nervous as anything, especially with the slightest hint that there could be a passing shower,” he said. “So all that mystery is gone now and the people promoting the show will have one less stress factor, which will save them 20 years in their life.”
The torch for the Seaside Summer Concert Series has been passed to the new Borough President, Eric Adams, who announced this year’s lineup during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. More information about the concert series can be found at brooklynconcerts.com or by calling 718-222-0600.
“This is now the home of the seaside summer concert series,” Adams said. “This will bring families together. That’s what Brooklyn was always about. That’s what my predecessor understood.”
The amphitheater still has a ways to go before construction is complete. As we previously reported, construction crews narrowly reached the finish line readying the venue for its first concert on Saturday — and the renovation of the landmarked Childs Restaurant is expected to finish within the next year, developer iStar Financial’s CEO Jay Sugarman said during the ceremony.
Markowitz said he’s been following the project closely as the amphitheater slowly took shape along the boardwalk. And he still has big dreams about how the venue will be used in the future.
“I’ve been here several times watching the progress as if, in some ways, I was building it brick by brick myself. It’s very exciting,” he said. “And in the days ahead, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes home to some national ballet company or they will take a summer residence here. Who knows?”