When the Walton Arts Center purchased the Arkansas Music Pavilion back in February, the organization made clear their intentions to give the venue a serious facelift.
As it turns out, that facelift is more of a full-body makeover, one that will be completed in time for the 2012 season.
As part of a $4 million renovation and construction project, the amphitheater is set to be moved off the blacktop of the Northwest Arkansas Mall parking lot and into a grassy area to the south and west of the current location.
“The project will transform the concert and entertainment scene in Northwest Arkansas,” WAC CEO Peter Lane stated in a news release. “The new AMP will be positioned as a premier concert stop in the Mid-South.
Capacity of the venue will increase to around 6,400 once the renovations are complete, including 2,400 fixed seats (1,800 fully covered).
Brian Crowne, who sold the AMP to the WAC back in February, but who continues to book and manage the venue, was ecstatic about the changes.
“With the expanded production capabilities, we’ll be able to handle about 95 percent of the tours that are on the road today,” he said. “It’s going to have all the amenities of any venue in the country, so I’m excited about the caliber of shows we’ll be able to bring in.”
Crowne said that in addition to the 2,400 fixed seats, the new facility will also have room for a large general admission “pit” area in front of the stage. “We need the seats for some of the acts we want to bring in, but for Pretty Lights and Primus, for example, no one is going to want to sit down.”
The expanded capacity and improved facilities also mean that Crowne will be able to book some of the larger acts that we’ve missed out on in the past.
“We were four feet on either side of the stage away from being able to book Widespread Panic last year, but we should be able to book that caliber of show in the future,” he said
Crowne said that he hopes to bring between 12 and 20 shows a season to the new facility, and mentioned contemporary acts like James Taylor and Bob Dylan, large country acts such as Jason Aldean and Sugarland, and college/indie bands like Fleet Foxes, Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and The Avett Brothers as some of the acts he would target.
Terri Trotter, chief operating officer for the arts center echoed Crowne’s excitement.
“We’re looking forward to pushing this venue up into the hillside, and taking advantage of some of the landscape we have in Fayetteville,” she said. “This is the Walton Arts Center’s first expansion of a few more to come, and it’s really going to open up the concert market here in Fayetteville.”
Trotter said that nearly half of the cost will be covered by private fundraising and that construction will begin in early October with a target completion date of May 2012, just in time for the summer season.
Planned amenities and improvements for the new AMP
- Air conditioned restrooms
- Concession and merchandise kiosks
- VIP Pavilion
- Raised tent structure that increases air circulation and allows for a better view of the stage
- Marquee entrance and drop off area
- Upgrading and increasing seating capacity (6,400 total capacity)
- 2,400 outdoor theater-style seats (1,800 covered)
- Sloped, manicured lawn to accommodate 4,000
- VIP box seating
- Building a permanent, well-equipped stage and stagehouse
- Artist amenities including air conditioned dressing rooms
- Technical capability to produce most major concert tours