Fans Say ‘It’s Always Been Star Lake to Me’ Anyway
Pittsburgh-Area Outdoor Concert Venue, New Title Sponsor Part Ways
BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. — While concert-goers have been eagerly awaiting the day live music returns without social distancing regulations involved, a beacon of hope appeared on social media earlier this week in the form of a blast from the past that — for many — brought back fond memories.
Quietly and without fanfare or explanation, Live Nation Pittsburgh changed the name and logo of its popular outdoor amphitheater’s social media pages to The Pavilion at Star Lake.
The move did not go unnoticed for long. The switch created a stir on social media, followed by a frenzy of buzzing speculation by numerous Pittsburgh-area news outlets.
Fans seemed to be happy to hear the news, because to most live music lovers in the tri-state area, the venue has been “Star Lake” to them, regardless of the many name changes it has undergone over the past few decades.
Early this year during the first week of January — months before the COVID-19 pandemic turned 2020 into a year with an asterisk by it in the history books — Live Nation Pittsburgh held a welcome party for a new name-in-title sponsor for the outdoor amphitheater. Partnering with the growing financial institution S&T Bank, Live Nation Pittsburgh –which operates the venue — announced the beginning of the S&T Bank Music Park era.
Even in January, several summer concerts had already been scheduled for the venue, and tickets were already being sold for many events.
As the name-in-title sponsor, S&T Bank was set to have its name appear before tens of thousands of area music fans at each show this year, not to mention having the bank’s name touted in all advertising of the shows and even printed on all of the digital and hard-copy tickets sold for each concert.
That is, until the pandemic canceled the concert season for 2020 and left the return to events with large crowds in question to this day.
With the payoff to the investment lost this year, and the future uncertain, S&T Bank and Live Nation Pittsburgh’s short-lived partnership apparently came to a premature end recently.
Research into the mysterious recent development solicited a brief statement from officials at Live National Pittsburgh, who simply explained, “S&T Bank is no longer the name-in-title sponsor of what is now called The Pavilion at Star Lake. We have certainly enjoyed our collaboration with S&T Bank and understand its position. We’re looking forward to bringing live music back as soon as possible and anticipate equally exciting collaborations with other partners in 2021 and beyond.”
While other past title sponsors for the popular venue had entered into 10-year contracts for the naming rights, S&T Bank’s recent pact was originally slated for only five years.
Originally opened in 1990, the venue’s first decade of operation took place under the banner of the Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre, from which many loyalists hold on to the “Star Lake” name. The next decade from 2000-2010 was the year of the Post-Gazette Pavilion. The venue became First Niagara Pavilion in 2010 for what was to be another 10 years, but KeyCorp ended up acquiring First Niagara Bank, and the venue’s name changed to KeyBank Pavilion from 2016 until the end of last year.
“Even when it had other names, we all still called it Star Lake,” Jean-Anne Renshaw of Wheeling said. “It just kind of stuck, like Xerox or Band-Aid — no pun intended.”
Tricia Kyer of St. Clairsville agreed. “No matter who the sponsor was over the years, it has always been Star Lake Amphitheatre to me,” she said.
“Whoever sponsors it should leave Star Lake in the name,” Michael Hawk of Rayland said. “For their branding purposes, it will only make a positive association in the mind of the consumer.”
It remains unclear who a new title sponsor may be in the future or when U.S. concerts will resume, but for The Pavilion at Star Lake, a full slate of rescheduled shows from 2020 are on the lineup for 2021, starting with the Dave Matthews Band on June 12.
“I care more about who they book than what they call it,” music lover Kathy Clark of Wheeling said.