Plans for enlarging the Legacy Park Amphitheater and adding a stage are progressing, with the parks department hoping to complete its design and seek bids this summer.
The project is on track to seek construction bids in June. The stage will probably be an open design, large enough to seat a full orchestra, possibly with a building behind for green rooms and performers support. It would have a technical structure for lighting and sound.
“We want to create a place with an identity, not only in the park but in the community,” said Steve Casey, assistant superintendent for park planning and development.
The department has been working on two conceptual designs, Casey said at an earlier parks board meeting. It has to be melded with the budget and business plan, but the department has a good start, he said.
The amphitheater, completed in 2008, cost $165,000. It is a concrete pad with concentric concrete rings and grass seating.
A passage of bond issues in 2013 to start implementing part of the city’s Cultural Arts Facility Master Plan, the parks department has $1.63 million to enlarge the amphitheater, adding a permanent stage, amenities like a ticket booth and concessions, and expanded parking.
Casey said the amphitheater has space to accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 spectators in grass seating. After design and engineering fees, the department expects to have about $1.5 million for construction.
Parks officials working with Webb Management Services Inc. has completed a preliminary business plan. Duncan Webb is the consultant who worked with the city to write the city’s Cultural Facilities Master Plan in 2012.
Among Webb’s recommendations:
• Initially hiring a fee-based consultant to book touring arts performers for concerts
• A summer outdoor film series with family, classic and popular movies sponsored by businesses
• Community events also sponsored by businesses
• Occasional rentals for events of area non-profits or commercial promoters
The plan calls for having professional managers of the facility for concessions, box office and eventually contracting for a ticket service when there’s a reasonable volume of sales, for online, telephone and in-person sales.
The plan also recommends a third-party contractor to operate concessions, with construction of facilities for concessions if the budget allows.
The business plan calls for 35 performances in the 2016 fiscal year.
It would include one (and in future years two) high-end acts in a fee range $10,000 to $20,000 for performers like Mark Willis, Marty Stewart and Tracy Lawrence, or Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Marshall Tucker or Foghat.
Ticket prices for smaller and mid-range acts would be $5 to $15.
The plan also calls for the city to fund an average of about $128,000 a year for the amphitheater’s first five years of operation, in addition to annual income from the facility which is projected to reach nearly $547,000 in the 2020 fiscal year.
The Parks and Recreation Board would need to approve the business plan, which also will need future refinement as it’s put into action.