Officials tour the new Arkansas Music Pavilion

Crossland construction officials, Walton Arts Center staff, and board members tour the construction site for the new Arkansas Music Pavilion on Tuesday

Todd Gill, Flyer Staff

Construction is underway at the site of what officials say will be the largest permanent outdoor amphitheater in the state.

Officials with Rogers-based Crossland Construction on Tuesday led a brief tour of the new Arkansas Music Pavilion site, located 20 miles north of Fayetteville off Interstate 540 across from the Pinnacle Hills Promenade.

The new $11 million venue will feature a 5,430-square-foot stage with a 34,500-square-foot pavilion for audiences and artists, as well as ticketing facilities, artist lounges, restrooms, and other permanent amenities.

The new amphitheater will accommodate over 7,000 attendees, with plans for 3,000 covered fixed seats and 4,000 sloped lawn seats.

The Walton Arts Center Council voted in May to move the venue to the new site, ending the AMP’s nine-year run of concerts in its hometown of Fayetteville. Officials said they hope the new larger facility will become a major stop for major touring concerts in the mid-south as it competes with markets like Dallas, Tulsa and Kansas City.

Walton Arts Center officials said on Tuesday that the facility will be renamed the Walmart AMP, thanks to a $2.5 million capital investment and 10 years of pledged support from the retail giant. Walmart joins Johnelle Hunt, who donated the land and a $3 million interest-free loan, as well as the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, who donated $2.5 million for the project.

Construction on the facility began in October. Despite several rounds of winter weather, officials said Tuesday the project is still on track to be open sometime in June.

Two concerts have already been announced for the upcoming summer concert season, including Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Jason Isbell on July 7, and country music star Jake Owen on Sept. 11.

Oddly enough, the new AMP is the second outdoor concert facility in the region to race against time in an effort to complete construction for a scheduled Willie Nelson concert in recent years. The country music legend was forced to cancel a July 2011 appearance after construction fell behind at the planned Osage Creek Amphitheatre, which has yet to be built in western Benton County.

Project renderings