The Westchester County Center—the largest venue for live acts between New York City and Albany—had, decades ago, fallen on rough times. Once known for presenting large concerts by marquee artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, James Brown, and other greats, the County Center over the years has become a venue for its reptile shows and crafts fairs. But a new promoter, Westchester Media, plans to change that—and its money woes. Indeed, The Beach Boys, Boston, Aretha Franklin, and Whoopi Goldberg have already signed on.
How come? For starters, a new six-figure acoustic system, installed by world-renowned acoustic design firm Walters-Storyk Design Group. “You can hear the difference as soon as you walk in the building,” says Chief Executive of Westchester Media Irwin Kornfeld. Getting big-name sponsors, e.g., Budweiser and Pepe Infiniti, helped, too.
The County Center can hold 5,000 people; it is four times larger than both the Paramount Center for the Arts, which recently suspended operations, and Tarrytown Music Hall, and three-times as large as the newly reopened Capitol Theatre. “If you’ve got more seats, you can attract more artists that cost more and demand more ticket sales,” says Kornfeld.