NBC 4 New York
Good news for summer concert lovers: Jones Beach Theater is ready for business, more than six months after it was heavily damaged by Sandy. Greg Cergol reports.
The Jones Beach Theater is set to reopen after rebuilding from the $20 million in damages the Long Island venue sustained during Sandy.
Country band Rascal Flatts will kick off the summer season Friday night at the 14,000-seat waterfront theater in Wantagh, where flood waters were 8 feet high during the storm and damaged the stage, seats and concession areas, according to theater operator Live Nation.
"It was heartbreaking for those of us who care about the venue and care about Long Island," said Alan Ostfield, Live Nation's president.
A crew of more than 250 worked furiously to remove an estimated 3 million gallons of sea water and hundreds of tons of debris, compressing a year's worth of work into just four months, officials said.
David Whitehouse, a supervisor for the Skanska construction company, said "95 percent of the crew are from Long Island and we really wanted to get this done."
The workers added 4,000 new seats and rebuilt the stage as well as concession areas, the VIP section, and the boardwalk.
"It was critical for us to open on time," said John Ahrens, a Live Nation vice president. "If it wouldn't have been ready, it's just another reminder that things are not normal."
An estimated 350,000 people visit the Jones Beach theater each year, and 33 concerts are planned this summer.