Am­phithe­ater’s name hits rewind

Af­ter string of spon­sors, change back to Starplex mu­sic to old-timers’ ears

The Dallas Morning News - - METRO - Tiney Ric­cia­rdi, Robert Wilonsky

A funny thing hap­pened Tues­day when we re­ceived word that bands Chicago and the Doo­bie Broth­ers would be com­ing to Dal­las this sum­mer: The press re­lease said they’d be play­ing Starplex Pavil­ion.

Starplex? Surely that’s a typo.

Not so. The live-mu­sic venue in Fair Park is start­ing the new year with an old name.

Tech­ni­cally, the city-owned, Live Na­tion-con­trolled shed for­merly known as Coca-Cola Starplex Am­phithe­atre when it opened in 1988 is now the Starplex Pavil­ion. But it’s close enough, es­pe­cially for the old­timers who could never get used to call­ing it the Smirnoff Mu­sic Cen­tre, Su­per­pages.com Cen­ter or Gexa En­ergy Pavil­ion, its moniker since 2011.

Matthew Leish­man, Live Na­tion’s lo­cal mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, con­firmed the venue’s name change but of­fered no fur­ther con­text for the switch.

Leish­man also tweeted the an­nounce­ment with a ref­er­ence to Starplex’s Twit­ter ac­count. And, sure enough, it’s con­firmed right there, along with the new logo: “Of­fi­cial Twit­ter of Starplex Pavil­ion (for­merly Gexa En­ergy Pavil­ion) in Dal­las, TX.” The ac­count was cre­ated in De­cem­ber.

Daniel Huerta, Fair Park’s ex­ec­u­tive gen­eral man­ager, ini­tially said he hadn’t heard any­thing about a name change. Later Tues­day af­ter­noon, he said the spon­sor­ship deal with Gexa En­ergy had ex­pired.

“They have all the rights to nam­ing it what­ever they want,” he said.

Which the City Coun­cil found out when Starplex be­came the Smirnoff. Some coun­cil mem­bers ob­jected to hav­ing a liquor com­pany’s brand name as­so­ci­ated with a South Dal­las mu­sic venue.

Starplex is cur­rently in the midst of a City Coun­cil-ap­proved $8 mil­lion makeover in­tended to up­date the fa­cil­ity that hasn’t been touched since, well, it was Starplex. Live Na­tion will pay for the up­grade, but is only on the hook for $1.5 mil­lion, with the city pay­ing the rest. Among the redo’s high­lights: a two-story VIP/artists lounge, up­graded video screens, ex­panded bath­rooms and new seat­ing.

2014 File Photo/Staff

Con­cert­go­ers (from left) Jonathan Mil­le­lights, Holley Primm, Cezi Di­et­rich and Miguel Lue­vano took a selfie dur­ing the Hold Steady’s set at the Sum­mer Cut mu­sic fes­ti­val in Gexa En­ergy Pavil­ion, which has changed its name to Starplex Pavil­ion.

Dal­las Land­mark Com­mis­sion

Planned ren­o­va­tions for the am­phithe­ater in Fair Park in­clude a two-story VIP/artists lounge (above), up­graded video screens, ex­panded bath­rooms and new seat­ing.

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