The Amp Reaches New Heights

BIG, TALL NEWS! Crews have raised a portion of the roof of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater to almost twice the height of the current roof, from 39 feet to 65 feet! The lift expands stage production capabilities in the Amphitheater, which will now have the ability to host larger and more complex tours. This portion of the project marked an engineering and design milestone of Phase One of the redevelopment of the Amphitheater.

Facts about the roof raise : 

  • Approximately half of the current roof was raised, from the stage out to the end of the current reserved seating sections 1-3
  • The area was approximately 24,100 feet (1/2 acre) and weighed 607,000 pounds

While ALE HeavyLift, an international company, based in Houston, Texas, carried out the Amphitheater roof lift,  there are strong local ties to companies who were involved in the building of the original Amphitheater in 1987 and are part of the project today - Hunzinger Construction Company, Eppstein Uhen Architects, Larson Engineering, Inc., and Staff Electric. 

Time lapse video of the roof lift

Raising the American Family Insurance Amphitheater Roof

The process of lifting the roof utilized eight different lifting motors, known as strand jacks, that pull cables inch by inch, from each of the eight points simultaneously, until the 26’ lift was completed.

Image showing the eight different strand jacks "lifting motors" that will pull cables inch by inch to raise the roof

Image captures the start of the roof lift process

Image shows when the roof lift was complete

With the roof raise portion of Phase One complete work will now commence to complete the backstage dressing room building. To view more of the exciting details about the redevelopment of the Amphitheater, visit the American Family Insurance stage page. 

Amphitheater History

The Amphitheater's story begins in 1984, when record crowds attended a Huey Lewis concert on the “Main Stage” (estimated 25,000+ people in a space only meant for 15,000), and proved that a larger performance space was needed at Summerfest. With the help of Stephen H. Marcus of the Marcus Corporation and Russell Cleary of G. Heileman Brewing Company the construction of a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art amphitheater was announced. In 1987 the seats were still being installed in the newly built Marcus Amphitheater the day before The Beach Boys were set to open Summerfest.

Amphitheater original schematicsScan of partial original Amphitheater schematics

Marcus Amphitheater circa 1987Image of the new Marcus Amphitheater in 1987

The Amphitheater today…

In 2017 Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. announced a new, comprehensive sponsorship with American Family Insurance that planned for a new 23,000-seat Amphitheater at Henry Maier Festival Park, known as the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Providing excellent sound, lighting and large video screens, every seat in the house gives fans an unforgettable live music experience. The grand opening of the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater is scheduled for Summerfest 2020.

Rendering of the new American Family Insurance Amphitheater scheduled for Summerfest 2020. The second phase of work will begin immediately after Summerfest 2019 and will include music fan amenities - new concourses, new restrooms, new seats, additional hospitality areas and increased food and beverage operations