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The new BMO Harris Pavilion will be ready to start its first Summerfest season June 27.

First look: Summerfest's BMO Harris Pavilion

Summerfest officials offered an exclusive look today at the new BMO Harris Pavilion, currently under construction at Henry Maier Festival Park.

The new pavilion and stage, designed by Epstein Uhen, features a swooshing wave-like roof and replaces the temporary Classic Rock Stage on the south end of the grounds. It is the main project of phase two of Summerfest's two-year, $35,000,000 redevelopment project.

The pavilion features a 10,000-person capacity, including 5,000 seats. A 17-by-10-foot video screen has been added to enhance viewing for standing-room-only patrons.

"This BMO Harris Pavilion really takes things to the next level," says Summerfest CEO Don Smiley. "We all love our grounds stages here. We have more work to do here after this is finished. But this particular venue takes it to a whole new stratosphere as far as music and other performances go. This is just not another grounds stage. It truly is different."

There will be two sound systems in the venue: one for the covered bowl area and a time-delayed one for the standing area behind it.

Additional amenities include a lakeside sit-down restaurant and a "club bar" – with room for 200 patrons and a commanding view of the stage – open to the public during unsold time periods. Plans are also in the works to book concerts at the pavilion outside of Summerfest.

The BMO Harris Pavilion will open its first year at the Big Gig with Steve Miller Band Wednesday, June 27. Other headliners include Ben Folds 5 (June 28), Scorpions (June 30), Chicago (July 1), Gavin DeGraw (July 3), David Gray (July 4), The Avett Brothers (July 5), Dennis DeYoung (July 6), Anthony Hamilton (July 7) and The B-52s (July 8). A headliner for June 29 has not yet been announced.

Entrance to the pavilion is free, however lower seating will require an assigned seating pass after 7:30 p.m. Passes are free at the Summerfest box office ($3 via Ticketmaster) and will be available starting May 7 at noon for Steve Miller Band. Passes for one additional show will become available every day through May 18 (except Sunday, May 13).

"The production values of this building (are) wonderful," says Summerfest's vice president of entertainment Bob Babisch. "Bands want to play in this place. It's more of a high-end show for acts. When you talk to acts, it's not always just the money. It's how the production values come across to the audience."

Summerfest 2012 will take place June 27-July 1 and July 3-8 from noon to midnight. The festival will be closed Monday, July 2. For more information, visit


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