Concerts, Return Events in August at Santander Arena and Performing Arts Center in Reading | Local News
It’s been 455 days since the lights went out at Santander Arena, one of the glimmers of hope for the resurgence of downtown Reading.
On March 6, 2020, when members of the Harlem Globetrotters walked up the proverbial tunnel to the locker room after a night of dazzling bullets, no one could have known what awaited them.
Six days later, Governor Tom Wolf would announce coronavirus-induced closures for three counties in Pennsylvania, and within days, events would be canceled everywhere for the foreseeable future.
For Santander Arena, that wouldn’t mean Reading Royals hockey; no Hillsong worship; no Paw Patrol Live.
Now, finally, after more than a year of darkness and deafening silence, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
On August 27, a Friday evening at 6 p.m., Blackberry Smoke will headline a southern rock evening that will loudly signal a new start for the arena, with capacity limits lifted.
The concert, which was originally booked for July 2020, looks like a big draw given the popularity of the headliner and caliber of supporting groups: The Allman Betts Band, which sold out a Berks show. Boscov Jazz Fest 2019; The Wild Feathers; Allman Brothers Band co-founder and percussionist Jaimoe, plus special guests.
Matt Christine, arena marketing director, said the excitement was just starting to build.
âI am encouraged by where we are at for a show that was announced during the pandemic,â Christine said. “We’ve got all summer to take it out and let Berks County know and pack the place up. It’s the first show of the 20th anniversary season.”
Live concerts on September 3 from Latin pop star Ricardo Montaner and on October 17 from Christian singer Zach Williams will soon follow, as well as the Reading Royals’ home opener on October 23. More events are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
And Christine said the coming season a few blocks away at the arena’s sister site, the Santander Performing Arts Center, could turn out to be one of the best ever.
Things start at the PSPC a little earlier than at the arena.
The first event on the agenda at this point is the Berks Jazz Fest opening night celebration featuring Chris Botti on August 13, followed by the festival’s 30th anniversary star-studded celebration the following night, and then by comedian Jo Koy on October 7. Little Big Town on October 8 and 9 and comedian Trey Kennedy on October 10.
Other highlights of the PSPC fall program are Chilean singer-songwriter Myriam Hernandez on October 16, Art Garfunkel in focus on October 22, the musical “Rent” on October 26, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge on November 5, big blues Buddy Guy on November 10, R&B a cappella stars Boyz II Men on November 18 and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Joan Jett & the Blackhearts on November 21.
Christine indicated that there is a lot more to come.
âThe excitement is there in the touring world,â he said. “It’s just a matter of finding space for that at this point (in the timeline).”
David Farrar, general manager of the arena and theater, concurred with this opinion, saying he sees that many acts are ready to hit the road.
Farrar has stated that in addition to “Rent,” the upcoming Broadway season will feature “Jersey Boys”, “Cats” and Blue Man Group. The dates for these and other upcoming events will be announced in the next month.
Christine said it was even possible for something to be scheduled at the theater before the Jazz Fest opened, but said the odds were slimmer in the arena.
âIf things move really fast, we could have a show before the Jazz Fest,â he said. “I don’t see that from the arena side. I think the first arena show will be Blackberry Smoke on August 27 because it’s a different animal announcing an arena show so quickly.”
ASM Global, which manages the Santander Arena and the Santander Performing Arts Center, issued a press release saying all events will return to full capacity based on current state guidelines and recommendations on COVID-19.
Christine said he had not received any guidance on mask or vaccine requirements for participants.
âBut like everything in this industry, that could change,â he added. “One show might want it, another show might not.”
ASM also announced the launch of a new arena and theater website at santander-arena.com, starting today. It was created by FXV Digital Design, West Reading.
âThe timing of our new website launch in the same week where we are able to focus on returning to events at full capacity is perfect,â Christine said in the release. “We look forward to having fans back in our venues for concerts, comedy and, of course, the Reading Royals games this fall.”
He said the new website makes it easier to find events and purchase tickets, whether on a phone or a personal computer.
âFreddy (Vasquez) and the entire FXV Digital Design team really stepped up to deliver an incredible end product to us, and I was delighted to be able to work with a local company on the project,â he said.
Christine urged clients to keep an eye on local media, the website and social media platforms for new event announcements and any policy changes that may arise.
“The most important thing is to make sure people know they need to keep up to date with our email, social media or website, because, again, that can change.” , did he declare. “That’s where we are now and we’re optimistic it’s going to stay that way, but the more people can find us and keep track of what we’re doing, the better.”