Country money: Profitable Arena to host free music series

When the venue formerly known as the Charlottesville Ice Park got a new owner last summer, he promised that melting the ice each summer for other activities would help the perennially money-losing facility turn a profit. True to his word, he says the renamed Main Street Arena has already begun operating profitably thanks to a variety of non-ice events including an antique show, roller derbies, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights.

Now, Fridays downtown are about to get a little bit country as the Arena is partnering with Coors Brewing Company to present Finally Fridays, a new country music concert series that's free.

With its shows running from 5-9pm and its golden refreshments flowing, the series is set to compete with Charlottesville mainstay Fridays After Five, although Arena owner Mark Brown says he hopes the Finally Fridays' indoor venue (including air conditioning!) and country-only line-up– including Sweetwater on July 1 and Iron Horse on July 8– will bring in new foot traffic, particularly those whose boots are made for walking.

Finally Fridays willl run through August 26, but it kicks off June 24 with Sunny Sweeney, a rising star who's already garnered national acclaim. Her hit “From a Table Away” rose to the Top Ten of Billboard’s “Hot Country” chart, and the artist herself made Maxim magazine’s list of “hottest women in country music.”

Good thing that the Arena's ice has already melted!


As someone that was completely skeptical of that venue's chances, I have to tip my cap to Mr. Brown for turning it into a vibrant and seemingly essential locale.

Serving beer and installing the flatscreens was a brilliant stroke.

Brilliant? Let's talk after some drunk slips on the ice this winter.

I look forward to the first few interactions between the country folks from Greene and Scottsville vs. the middle school thugs who are assaulting people in the nearby parks.

Seriously? Oh boy, more Travis Tritt and Sara Evans impersonations. Please let us know when you all hire some real talent!

Is this an entrepreneur trying to cut in on Capshaw's monopoly at the other end of the mall? Surprised the city hasn't served up some sort of non compete...

Hopefully some competition will lead to cheaper beer prices. Fridays is free if you don't mind getting gouged if you eat or drink something. RIP capshaw monopoly

To the person that wants to put down local bands. You would not know talent if it hit you in the face. You are talking all this mess because you don't have any talent. By the way sweetwatwr is not impersonators. have you heard them lately?

R u serious,

How do you know if they wouldn't know talent? because your little feelings go hurt? Too much is made of the music scene.

The profitability of the Ice Park was not because the ice didn't melt it was because of marginal management and poor marketing. In spite of which, the park was only losing the value of the taxes. Brown got to buy the operation for less and probably has a smaller tax burden.

Beyond that, much of what he is doing could have gone on with the ice still there. You can cover the ice.

And yeah, I like the competition with the Capshaw monopoly. I would like it very much if he started a series to run the nights that the Pavilion is running its for profit ventures, that the City is constantly subsidizing.

I am new to the Charlottesville area as a citizen and while I'm beginning to like it, I can't get over all of the negativity when something new comes along. Come on guys, instead of trashing something before it even gets started, why not try a "wait and see" approach. A little kindness never hurt anyone and has certainly helped many.

Beyond that, much of what he is doing could have gone on with the ice still there. You can cover the ice<<

Yes, indeed. One of the great venues in Bavaria was (is) the the Casa Carioca in Garmisch, which was (is) an ice rink with a retractable floor. Change that surface in an hour.

Actually, I have heard sweet water lately and heard them many times over the years. Two egos in the forefront, otherwise they are backed by good musicians and karaoke-quality lead vocals.

Come on guys... This article is set up for comments about the summer concert series,not trashing a couple of really good people. Someone obviously has issues with the individuals not their music, so please take it up with them face to face instead of hiding behind an article that just happens to mention the band name.........

I agree with you Sweetwater fan. I can't wait to hear these great groups at the new venue.

SW Fan,

I know nothing about the group so I didn't comment on them specifically. I will and do comment on the fact that the so called 'music scene' in this area takes itself way too seriously, and has far less ability than it thinks it does. I won't say a lack of talent, but a lack of skills and professionalism that leads to less ability. Those in the area with that ability tend to be less vocal, and just get out in the wider world and do something.

The article was on a bit more than SW, but the Ice Park operations and downtown business development. I think the closing and melting of the ice was a real blow to the DT Mall, and will cost the area and the City in the long run. It will even have an impact on the County. Its a real riot to me that the City can subsidize the likes of Capshaw and create an eyesore with noise pollution, but wasn't really interested in subsidizing the Ice Park - a place where people do physically healthy stuff. Not that I think either should be subsidized, by the way. So the competition will in my view be a welcome change to bidness as uzal.

Old Timer,

FYI, not sure if you were aware, but the "closing and melting of the ice" is only for the summer months. "Physically healthy stuff" such as inline hockey, futsal, and roller derby take place at the arena all the time during the summer months. The ice will be back in the fall for ice hockey and figure skating.


I am well aware of the ice coming back for 6 months of the year. There are also plenty of places for people to play roller hockey, as there were many leagues before the Ice Park opened in 1996. Roller Derby can do the same thing. They don't need a melted Ice Rink to do it in. I didn't say that there shouldn't be concerts there either.

You are missing my point.

In the long run, with only 6 months of the Ice Rink, the figure skating and hockey programs will die off. It happened here once before.

Old Timer, I wasn't directing my comment to you. I agree that the music scene here is over rated. There are only a handful of truly talented and professional acting musicians, singers or groups. So many think they are more than they really are, they should explore outside of the C'vile area to see what it is really all about....

Why are you arguing about sweetwater. I'd prefer to think about Miss Sweeney who appears to be rather attractive and talented. I'm excited no more sweating it out at the "NTELOS" and being overcharged for beer. The freemarket is coming to music in this town and I love it....

I agree with Mac.....I think it is wonderful having another location to hear live music. This gives us more options. I can't wait to check it out.....

The Main Street Arena may want to hire a sound engineer to figure out how to improve the acoustics of the place. Otherwise, good luck.

The Main Street Arena may want to hire a sound engineer to figure out how to improve the acoustics of the place. Otherwise, good luck.

I agree 100% with mechercher. There is far too much negativity on this and many other posts.