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Will the Pavilion Give Dallas Venues a Run for Their Money?

The Pavilion at Irving Music Factory will have a seating capacity of 8,000 and be able to transform from an indoor to an outdoor venue.
The Pavilion at Irving Music Factory will have a seating capacity of 8,000 and be able to transform from an indoor to an outdoor venue.
courtesy Irving Music Factory

After three years of construction, a new 17-block entertainment district in Las Colinas finally has an opening date. The centerpiece, simply called the Pavilion, will be one of the largest and most high-tech venues in Dallas-Fort Worth when it opens Sept. 1.

Local bookers and musicians say it could result in a smaller pool of acts for some mid-sized venues in Dallas, and may lead to greater competition for acts amongst venues such as the Bomb Factory, Gas Monkey Live and Billy Bob’s Texas.

“I have been telling friends how that place is going to shake things up in DFW, especially with the non-compete clause bands sign to play,” says local DJ Bryan Coonrod.

The Pavilion is exclusively booked by Live Nation – who are also behind American Airlines Center and South Side Ballroom – and typically have non-compete clauses in their contracts that restrict bands from playing anywhere close for a specific period of time.

The new Las Colinas venue will morph to fit any number of events, thanks to its airplane hangar-style construction. By simply closing a door and rearranging the seats, the 8,000-seat amphitheater can become an indoor arena, event hall, intimate theater or standing-room-only rock venue.

"It really is a unique, state-of-the-art facility," says Michael Rilley, general manager for the Pavilion. “I describe it like a big piece of clay because you can mold and shape the venue to fit.”

Given these luxurious amenities, some artists may be lured away from independent and mid-sized venues. “I had a country artist I was trying to book at South Side Music Hall, [and] they told me they were going to wait for the [Pavilion at the] Music Factory to open up so they could play there,” says Daniel Castaneda, an independent booker,  formerly with Gas Monkey Live. “I was kind of shocked, because at that time the place was just dirt.”

Live Nation has already revealed a stellar string of events planned for the Pavilion's first months. Dave Chappelle, Brad Paisley and comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy will perform during the Pavilion’s first three days of operation. In the first three months, Kiss, the Flaming Lips, Trevor Noah, Harry Styles, Chris Rock and Megadeth will appear.

An increase in competition has upsides. For example, the Pavilion may create bigger and better opportunities for local and lesser known bands. “Gas Monkey will still get a lot of the same shows, a lot of acts like playing that room, but it might be cool to see some more double headline bills by smaller acts fill the room out,” Castaneda says. “With all these venues I could see it being hard for people deciding which place to attend. But I don't think Gas Monkey is worried. I wouldn't be worried."

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For now however, construction continues on the Pavilion, which is part of a larger complex called the Irving Music Factory. By the end of the year the complex will include more than 20 bars, restaurants and clubs; an eight-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema; and a 100,000-square-foot office building, already leased to capacity. The retail space is still being rented out.

But the Pavilion is the main draw.

“We’ve been working toward this target date of the grand opening of the venue for over 18 months,” Rilley says.

Only time will tell whether the Pavilion will become a boon for local acts, or a burden for bookers.

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