The sound of success: Celebrating 2 years of The Orion in Huntsville
Published on December 8, 2023
After two years in operation, The Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville’s MidCity District has become a destination for top-tier musical acts as well as a hub for community events. Looking ahead, Mayor Tommy Battle anticipates an even brighter future, promising that the best is yet to come.
Battle recently joined Ryan Murphy and Ben Lovett of venue operator tvg hospitality to celebrate The Orion’s successes, from economic impact to sustainability initiatives. They also discussed how the venue has helped change the perception of Huntsville, making it more than just a Rocket City.
“Every concert I’ve been to here, I’ve met someone from somewhere else,” Mayor Battle said. “They come visit, but when they get back in their car or on the plane, they say, ‘Wow, I had no idea.’ And that’s what we built this for.”
The venue hosted 32 shows in 2023 and issued 187,000 event tickets. About 46% of tickets were sold out of state, with the majority being from Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
Lovett and Murphy both praised the City’s commitment to building the venue, with Lovett adding it was particularly important for him to fulfill the promise of what The Orion would be. A touring musician with Grammy-award winning group Mumford & Sons, Lovett wanted to create a venue and a positive experience that would excite artists as much as the fans.
The excitement around Huntsville and The Orion is what led Snoop Dogg to cancel a show in another city and move it to Huntsville.
“He puts on the show here and it sells because people know this is a great place to watch a show,” Lovett said of the rapper’s decision. “It’s important to take pride in (The Orion).”
Economic and community benefits
The Orion has also acted as an economic driver and job creator as commercial development continues to flourish around the site. For example, the venue’s seasonal staff employment grew 16% from 2022 to 2023.
Murphy, who moved to Huntsville after managing a successful amphitheater in St. Augustine, Florida, said the community aspect of The Orion is as important as the talent it attracts. In 2023, The Orion hosted 83 community and cultural events, up from 14 in the first year.
“We’re going to get great artists, but that layer of community events is what we wanted to do for Huntsville,” Murphy said. “It took a decade to achieve in St. Augustine what only took 18 months to do here. … It’s been pretty wild to see the stats and the impact we’ve had.”
Accolades and statistics
Despite its young age, The Orion continues to be recognized on an international scale. Last year, the venue was featured in Rolling Stone magazine. It also placed 12th on Pollstar’s Mid-Year Top 50 Worldwide Amphitheaters by ticket sales and 15th on their Mid-Year Top 50 Worldwide Amphitheaters by gross sales lists.
As of year-end, The Orion is ranked 36 out of 100 based on ticket sales and 33 out of 100 on gross sales.
By the numbers
A look at some other important facts and figures after two years in operation:
Tickets sold since the venue opened
Average attendance across all ticketed events
Local and regional artists who have performed at cultural and community events
Water bottles saved through water refill stations
Reusable cups enjoyed by attendees