OKC Music Venues Say It Could Take Years To Recover From Coronavirus Pandemic

Wednesday, May 20th 2020, 4:07 pm

Local Oklahoma City concert venues, the Tower Theatre and Ponyboy, remain closed because COVID-19 restrictions are still too costly to open.

Owner Chad Whitehead said the concert industry will take one to two years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitehead said although they’ve been given the green light to reopen by Gov. Kevin Stitt, it’s still not economically viable to fill an 1,000-person space for 50.

"The biggest snag is how do you responsibly care for your guests and your staff without pushing that crowd size into a range based on the health department above not being safe,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead was forced to close his doors back in March, and they got a Paycheck Protection Program loan to help offset the costs.

"The PPP loan is enough to the bridge the gap because we still aren’t clear when we can reopen to regular business," he said.

In the meantime, Whitehead said his team plans to find other ways to fill the space and try to make money.

"It may be a lot more private events for corporations and events, maybe small weddings, occasional small comedy concerts, hip-hop artists or DJs,” Whitehead said.

But it's not going to be easy and reopening is still a big unknown.

"It’s going to take a lot of creativity and cost cutting in order to survive,” Whitehead said.

But no matter what, Whitehead said Tower Theatre and Ponyboy will survive COVID-19, but some Oklahoma venues won't.

Whitehead said for those that bought tickets to concerts that were canceled will get rescheduled like planned.