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Macon’s New Atrium Health Amphitheater Sets The Stage

March 25, 2024

By Joe Kovac Jr.
March 21, 2024

MACON — In a place famous for its homegrown music legends, for launching to stardom the likes of Little Richard, Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers, it should come as no surprise that civic leaders here are again summoning the powers of this city’s melodic leanings. This time in the form of a $45 million venue — a gleaming, 12,000-capacity amphitheater.

The massive, bat-winged structure juts skyward along U.S. 80. The leading edge of its 330-foot-wide rooftop subtly forms a letter “M” in a nod to Macon.

The new arena is one of the two largest of its kind in the state. It is the most ambitious entertainment hall to be built in Middle Georgia since 1968, when the Macon Coliseum opened, and its first singing act was James Brown. The bond-funded amphitheater was the brainchild of Mayor Lester Miller.

Sleek and angular, it lords, spaceship-like, over the horizon, bounded by the wooded bank of Rocky Creek. Miller, an attorney raised on the city’s southwest side, is fond of the area, which he said, “needed revitalization.” He said local government over the years has contributed to the mall area’s decline “by not focusing resources” there. “There’ll be less and less naysayers when they see what’s going on and the improvements,” Barwick said.

The place has a viable chance to be the “Georgia stop” for popular acts. Hometown country star Jason Aldean has already sold out an October concert. The city’s new entertainment venue sits at a midpoint between I-75 and the I-475 bypass, 2 miles from each freeway.

Other space inside the mall, where some retail outlets remain, now houses county offices. Most notably, in what was once a Belk department store, the city has built what it boasts is the world’s largest indoor pickleball facility. The courts have received glowing reviews.

Alex Morrison, who is also the county’s director of planning and public spaces, sees the amphitheater project as a chance to “regenerate from within” and also to trumpet a tale of rebirth. “I think this is part of Macon building a louder speaker to tell the story”, he said. Now there is talk of a hotel going up on the property soon.

He said developments around the amphitheater and, across town, an impending official “national park” designation for the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park have generated a statewide buzz about the city. “We’re back on the map, back in the game, and it’s positive,” Miller said. “People are talking about Macon in a positive way.”