SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio area music scene is about to hit another high note with the reopening of the Real Life Amphitheater in Selma.
The amphitheater has not hosted a mainstream concert since the late 2000s, when it was called the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. River City Community Church bought the property in 2011 after it closed and maintained the venue for years.
“We acquired this property years ago and just recognized that this was beyond us,” said Sean Azaro, pastor of the River City Community Church. “This was more than just a church home. We wanted to offer this property as a gift, really, to the community.”
But the venue was in a state of disrepair. Azaro and the team, including general manager George Ebarb, worked to upgrade the facility.
“There were no seats inside this amphitheater. We had to boost the WiFi, run new cabling, redo the stage and then we started putting seats back inside,” said Ebarb. “We had to redo our concession stands at the same time. All that equipment was taken out, but the infrastructure was still there, so we could see the bones of the place. We just had to put the meat on the bones, so it’s been awesome.”
The Real Life Amphitheater has a capacity of 20,000 for live events and shows. That includes 8,000 under the roof and 12,000 on the lawn.
The amphitheater is now the second-largest live entertainment venue in the San Antonio area.
“We are one of the largest cities in the country that didn’t have an operating outdoor amphitheater of this size. It is or was a missing piece to allow the city to reach its potential for artists to continue to come here,” said Aaron Zimmerman, VP of programming and marketing at the Tobin Center.
Zimmerman said the amphitheater represents more options for entertainers that would otherwise not stop in our area.
The Tech Port Center and Arena recently opened on the Southwest Side.
“More options is better for the people of San Antonio and allow different types of arts to be presented in different places,” said Zimmerman. “When we do 100, 200, 300 shows a year, you remember how many people in this city get to work their shows and what it does for the economy and the education and the kids.”
The amphitheater also serves as a nonprofit organization called the Real Life Center for Performing Arts, where proceeds from the events go back to the church and community.
“We really want this to be a whole community facility. We connected with Tobin Entertainment (to see) what it would look like if we were able to host some events beyond just the Christian community, family-friendly events that were adult contemporary, country, jazz and cultural events. That’s been a really cool part of this whole kind of next step,” said Azaro.
Real Life Amphitheater’s first big show is Sunday’s Zac Brown Band concert, but it’s only the beginning of the facility’s rebirth.
“This entertainment building was built for festivals. We can do wine tasting events. There’s just amazing amount of things that we could do,” said Ebarb. “We just don’t want to be a concert venue. We want to be able to do multiple things.”