This article first appeared in the June 21st issue of Billboard Magazine.
The Woodlands' open-air stage celebrates a mileston with Jimmy Buffett, Il Divo and Kings of Leon.
In the scenic township of The Woodlands, Texas, just north of Houston, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, presented by Huntsman rises above a grassy lawn, welcoming superstars and fans to its 25th season as one of the nation’s premier outdoor venues.
The Pavilion is named for the wife of George Mitchell, the businessman, real estate developer and philanthropist who created the surrounding town, which one historian in 2007 described as “the best-planned, environmentally sensitive large development in the country.”
The Mitchells’ youngest son, Grant Mitchell, 51, who is a board member of the venue’s nonprofit foundation, describes the shared vision of his father, who died in 2013 at the age of 94, and his mother, Cynthia Woods Mitchell, who died in 2009.
“My father didn’t want residents to have to commute to Houston to work -- or to enjoy the arts and musical entertainment either,” he says, while his mother believed in the “transformative power” of the arts.
As an outdoor venue in a notoriously hot and humid market, the success of the Pavilion was never guaranteed. “So to look at where it is now is really gratifying,” says Mitchell, “because it validates my parents’ vision and tenacity.”
The Pavilion opened April 27, 1990 with the Houston Symphony, which still calls the venue its summer home, along with the Houston Ballet. Paid attendance for contemporary music totaled 477,244 in 2013 (according to the Pavilion), including 16 sold-out concerts. With free seating at performing arts events included, more than 525,000 fans passed through the Pavilion’s turnstiles in 2013. Since 1990, the venue has reported grosses totaling $201,591,801 from 6,758,304 attendees to 689 concerts.