Let me start by getting one thing straight: Deer Creek, then Verizon Wireless and now Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville is absolutely terrible. It always has been and it always will be.
Why? Well it starts with the stupid location that forces all of its patrons to drive long distances to it and ends with its inability to even try to figure out how to run a parking lot that their first stupid unsolvable defect requires. There is nothing that can be done for the amphitheater being in the wrong town, not just the wrong part of town. And while there are myriad solutions to their traffic management problems, their inability to solve them helps lead central Indiana to the right solution: a world class, downtown Indianapolis amphitheater in a neighborhood that unquestionably needs it.
Erica Smith’s column in the Indianapolis Star this past Sunday on this redevelopment project, and the alleged issues that come from it might be the worst piece I’ve ever read in that paper. It seemed like she was desperately searching for a legitimate reason to be against the new venue. “The Valley” is a neighborhood southwest of the mile square that has not exactly had a great century since the 1913 flood. Now the area is the target of a massive redevelopment with the new Marion County Criminal Justice Center featured as the main part. Ms. Smith did find “half a dozen” people to complain about the suggested replacement projects, who notably had no plan B to offer. The column was a bad attempt at finding a neighborhood problem with the proposed ideas. There isn’t one.
Ms. Smith opines: “…we certainly don’t need a concert venue that would rival Klipsch on the edge of a neighborhood with homes, schools, parks, and a handful of small businesses.” Actually, that is exactly what we need. This new venue closes Klipsch once and for all, and we need that as well. It might close the Indiana Farm Bureau Lawn at White River State Park also, but theirs is a concert schedule of about 10 shows per year. Of course, the best thing about The Lawn, is not what they do, but where they do it. Downtown.
Ninety percent of all neighborhoods in and around the city are more conveniently located to the proposed site near “The Valley.” From Zionsville to Shelbyville, the new proposal makes more sense. There are even big portions of Hamilton County that would be better served by a downtown Indy venue, because the city is better equipped to host crowds of this size.
Of all the things I think of that Indianapolis does not have, it is a world class outdoor music venue. Noblesville having one doesn’t mitigate this shortcoming. Our convention business does not benefit from a venue that is an hour away from downtown. Transportation options abound in the new locale. Concert goers travel to see their favorite acts. They stay in hotels, go out to eat, and enjoy other things that cities have to offer while on their trip. Currently, if someone comes in from out of town to see the Dave Matthews or Miranda Lambert shows, the entire day of the show is consumed with the commute and parking experience of Klipsch. Instead of experiencing other Indy activities like a trip to the Zoo, Circle Center, or any of our museums, etc., we treat them to something that is Honest To Goodness Indiana: traffic congestion on the northeast side. Where exactly do people even have dinner on the night of a show at Klipsch? Honestly, and out of necessity, it’s usually at the concession stand. Would you like a complimentary cholesterol check with your overpriced chicken fingers?
And what about the other potential uses for the new center? I think of Black Expo events. I think of an Indy Jazz Fest that can’t ever seem to sustain itself. I think of Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra events. I think of a big amenity that could have helped Indianapolis land a Republican National Convention. Currently, our township high schools often travel to Klipsch (again in Noblesville) for commencement ceremonies. That is hilarious.
And we should prevent this in our city for what reason exactly? Because a few people in a soon-to-be blighted area don’t want it. Ludicrous. The neighbors of Klipsch don’t want their concert venue either, but they have a legitimate reason: it doesn’t belong there and it never did. This is the right idea and the only thing wrong with it is that it took 25 years to get started. The opposition of the few in The Valley is only mildly newsworthy. They can handle this.
Oh, and on those Jimmy Buffet nights at the new place, anyone over 40 who is wearing a grass skirt must exit through the Criminal Justice Complex’s express lane. Let’s do this Indianapolis, and when we do, let’s do it classy.