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Concerts and sporting events have stopped but not the construction of the two music venues along the Ohio River and FC Cincinnati's stadium.

Despite the pandemic, county officials and developers said construction both projects are still ongoing, as is the apartment complex at Fourth and Race streets. 

Construction is considered an essential business and exempt from the orders from Ohio and Kentucky's governors.

The music venues being built across from each other on the riverfronts of Newport and Cincinnati are neck-and-neck in terms of progress. 

The builders hope to open the $27 million venue, dubbed the Andrew J. Brady ICON Music Center, in the shadow of Paul Brown Stadium sometime late fall. Newport's $23 million music venue, Ovation Pavilion, is targeted March 2021 to open on the long-awaited Ovation property at the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers. 

Competition among the venues is expected to be fierce, with the Cincinnati one being built by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's music promotion wing, Music and Events Management, Inc.(MEMI), and the Newport one being built by Columbus-based PromoWest.

They're roughly the same size and both have indoor and outdoor stages. The ICON music center will fit 4,500 people indoors and 8,000 outdoors. Ovation Pavilion will have room for 2,800 indoors and 7,000 outdoors. 

The concrete for the first-level floors where concertgoers will stand have been poured for both venues. 

In fact, the floor of the first level of the music venue at The Banks by Paul Brown Stadium was scheduled to be finished Wednesday at 6 p.m., said Mike Smith, president of MEMI.

"If you were to go down there and you were to stand on that slab, that is where patrons would stand on the first level looking at the stage," Smith said.

Smith wouldn't say a specific month they plan on opening. The CSO's venue is already financed thanks to some large, anonymous donations, Smith said. 

The garages underneath both concert halls are still under construction. Hamilton County is building the garage for Cincinnati's music venue and has completed the portion directly underneath the venue, Smith said. The county is now working on the garage that will go underneath the lawn that will serve as the audience space for outdoor concerts. 

“I don’t see us halting any major construction projects we’re doing,” said Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.

Both venues will start going up vertically in April. The owners haven't started booking acts for new facilities. They hope to start this summer. 

No one knows what world and economy these venues will open to.

PromoWest CEO Scott Stienecker said people will either be "chomping at the bit to get out" or will be concerned about their wallet.

The shows PromoWest and MEMI have booked in their current venues through May have been postponed to the summer and fall. PromoWest operates venues in Columbus and Pittsburgh. MEMI manages Riverbend, PNC Pavilion, Taft Theater and Rose Music Center in Huber Heights.

"What's going to happen?" Smith said. "Nobody knows. You just have to put one foot in front of the other."

What about other large projects in the county? Still a go. 

FC Cincinnati's stadium in the West End is ongoing, the team's communications director Lizz Summers told The Enquirer. The 26,000-seat soccer stadium is set to open in March 2021.

The team declined further comment.

The 264-unit apartment complex at Fourth and Race streets is also ongoing, said Joe Rudemiller, spokesman for the project coordinator, 3CDC. 

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