St. Augustine Amphitheatre lands at No. 11 on Pollstar’s list of top-performing amphitheaters in first half of 2017

St. Augustine Amphitheatre (Florida Times-Union/file)

The St. Augustine Amphitheatre has been able to compete with venues in the world’s biggest markets to stand among the most popular amphitheaters worldwide this year, according to a recent industry report from Pollstar.


The entertainment industry media outlet released its report about the busiest amphitheaters in the first half of 2017. Based solely on tickets sold, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre ranks No. 11.

Through June 30, the Amphitheatre sold 75,398 tickets. That was more than venues in cities like Philadelphia, Dallas and Atlanta.

For the first half of the year, there were 30 events, two of which were multi-night events. Also, some of the shows were on the smaller Backyard Stage. Seven of the shows were sold out in the 4,000-seat venue.

Ryan Murphy, who is the St. Johns County director of cultural events and general manager of the Amphitheatre, said he was excited last year when the Amphitheatre was No. 26 on the list. So moving up from there was a great accomplishment, he said.

“The thing that’s the most impressive to me is a lot of the venues on this list are three or four times as large as us,” Murphy said.

Certainly, it helps that St. Augustine can host events even in the winter or early spring when northern venues must remain shuttered. But the biggest reason for the impressive turnout so far this year is the fact that so many big names in entertainment have visited.

Among the sold-out shows this year were superstars like Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, John Legend and John Mellencamp.

The Amphitheatre also hosted Adam Sandler’s live show, which Murphy said had higher ticket prices than most other Amphitheatre events. But the public responded by buying every available ticket.

Murphy said it’s been exciting to him to see the way the community has supported the programming at the Amphitheatre in recent years.

“The thing that’s nice is we have a lot of cool momentum, but it’s not all about the shows,” he said. “There are unique things like the Green Hands initiative (reducing the environmental impact at the Amphitheatre). There are so many cool community things we do.”

It’s also encouraging that the Amphitheatre has done so well even with the opening this year of Daily’s Place in Jacksonville. It’s larger at about 5,500 seats and has brought in its share of big-name acts.

But so far, the new amphitheater in Jacksonville hasn’t siphoned off much business from its St. Augustine counterpart. Murphy said his staff has worked hard to make sure St. Augustine remains a place preferred by artists.

He also said the competition has made the Amphitheatre better and improved the regional music scene overall.

“I think it’s cool there’s another venue in the market,” Murphy said. “Having the competition just kicked us into action a little bit.”

Despite the strong start to the year, the Amphitheatre isn’t slowing down much. Since June ended, the Amphitheatre has either hosted or has scheduled 19 other acts. Among those acts are three sold-out shows by Widespread Panic in September, two sold-out shows by Jack Johnson in October and another sold-out show from Lynyrd Skynyrd in October.