Venue Explorer: New York City – Concerts + Sports
When it comes to live entertainment, New York City is inarguably the center of the universe. From new rooms for emerging artists, to The World’s Most Famous Arena – there’s no shortage of magic, history, and excitement to be found in these staple New York City venues.
New York City Sports & Music Venues
Nicknamed the “Showplace of the Nation” after opening in 1932, the tremendous 5,960-seat Radio City Music Hall is a masterpiece of art deco architecture containing what was once the world’s largest auditorium. The Hall’s two lobbies dazzle visitors with elegant terrazzo floors and marble walls, while the auditorium’s Great Stage resembles a setting sun. The Rockefeller Center venue is home to precision-dancing legends the Rockettes, featured performers in the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The list of music legends who have performed here goes for miles, with highlights including Pink Floyd, Britney Spears, and the duo of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.
New York’s highest-profile venue floats several floors above Penn Station, an active railroad station. Ranging in capacity from 18,000 (hockey) to 20,000 (concerts), the fourth venue to bear the name Madison Square opened at this location in 1968. The area’s oldest major sporting facility is home to the NHL‘s New York Rangers and the NBA‘s New York Knicks. MSG’s historic musical highlights include George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, the three-night 1973 Led Zeppelin stand memorialized on The Song Remains the Same, and Phish’s 13-night Baker’s Dozen run in 2017. Billy Joel has also performed here monthly since 2014. The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden seats up to another 5,600 ticket holders for separate events.
Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre is fit for royalty. The spectacularly ornate venue first opened in 1929 as one of the five original “Loew’s Wonder Theatres” and closed in 1977. It reopened with a Diana Ross performance in 2015 following a remarkable $95 million restoration. The 3,000-capacity theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has hosted shows by Joanna Newsom, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Sean Paul, 2 Dope Queens (comediennes Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson), the Brooklyn Nutcracker, and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Farewell Play.
The red-and-gray exterior of Newark’s Prudential Center represents both the city’s bricklaying and railroad heritage as well as the New Jersey Devils’ team colors. The National Hockey League team is the anchor attraction at “The Rock,” a reference to Prudential Financial’s corporate logo. Prudential Center, which opened in 2007 with 10 concerts by New Jersey favorite sons Bon Jovi, is home to the annual McDonald’s Gospelfest competition. Its capacity varies from 17,625 for hockey to 19,500 for concerts.
This historic theater on Manhattan’s Upper West Side has most notably hosted 238 sold-out Allman Brothers Band performances since 1989, including the Southern rockers’ 2014 farewell concert. The 2,894-seat venue opened in 1929 as a vaudeville movie palace. Entire orchestras can rise from its basement to its stage, which is flanked by a pair of 30-foot-tall Greek goddesses. Countless comedy specials have been filmed in its exquisitely detailed confines, and Jerry Seinfeld will continue a string of 36 sold-out shows here into 2019.
Impresario Billy Rose’s swank Diamond Horseshoe joint, which opened in 1938 and gave hoofer Gene Kelly his start, received a modern update prior to reopening as Sony Hall in 2018 with capacity for 1,000 standing or 500 seated customers. Co-owners Blue Note Records and Sony have retained the establishment’s last-century charm amid a renovation that includes a state-of-the-art sound system. Located in Manhattan’s Theater District, Sony Hall’s performance roster includes Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Rickie Lee Jones, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2019 in addition to the Harlem Gospel Choir’s popular all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches.
It’s been showtime at the Apollo since 1914, when the 1,506-capacity neoclassical Harlem venue opened as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. It became the Apollo Theater after a 1934 renovation, and began catering to the local black community. Countless stars of vaudeville, gospel, jazz, soul, and R&B have graced the stage of a theater perhaps best known for “Amateur Night in Harlem,” a popular radio show that eventually moved to television and continues to this day. Performers you’re likely to enjoy at this historic venue include the Dance Theatre of Harlem, gospel singer CeCe Winans, and cutting-edge comedians aplenty.
Quality acoustics and sight lines are the hallmarks of this 1,500-seat Midtown venue built by the League for Political Education in 1921. The group’s democratic principles led it to omit box seats that would only look wrong as speakers argued for women’s suffrage and other popular causes. Town Hall soon became a go-to location for classical concerts, beginning with an appearance by Richard Strauss, and jazz stars like Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus recorded some of their greatest music here. Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion made Town Hall its New York base, a tradition that continues with successor Chris Thile’s Live From Here. Mainstays and visionaries like Joe Jackson, Todd Rundgren, and Anoushka Shankar are all part of the Town Hall calendar.
In 2009, the $2.3 billion house that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner built replaced the original “house that Ruth built.” The Steinbrenner family’s new stadium is located one block away from the Bronx original and, in addition to their well-known baseball team, hosts Major League Soccer’s New York City FC. With a maximum capacity of about 54,000, Yankee Stadium mimics the 1923 original’s look and dimensions while including such enhancements as 4,300 club seats and 68 luxury suites. Monument Park still features retired Yankees’ numbers, the New York Yankees Museum is packed with memorabilia, and a “Ball Wall” contains hundreds of autographed orbs. The stadium’s large, special concerts have included appearances by Jay-Z, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, and Madonna.
Brooklyn has had its own large multipurpose arena since 2012, when a Jay-Z concert launched this architecturally impressive venue near a downtown transit hub. Twelve thousand pre-weathered steel panels evoke the borough’s brownstone residential buildings, while a massive oculus oversees the exterior plaza. The arena is home to the NBA‘s Brooklyn Nets, while the NHL‘s New York Islanders split their season between Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Boxing, mixed martial arts, and pro wrestling events are also held in the arena, which has seen numerous concerts by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Rush, Ariana Grande, Elton John, and Cher.