The Walmart AMP has decided to crank it up.
At a press conference Friday morning, officials with the outdoor amphitheater unveiled what they are calling the 20/20 Vision for the facility. Chief among the updates to the four-year-old permanent structure in Rogers will be the construction of a new box office, main entry plaza and covered plaza at the rear of the lawn area. This new lawn plaza will provide 15,000 square feet of event space and viewing locations.
The existing lawn area will also be reconfigured to create several tiers where an additional 1,200 chairs can be added to lawn area if the concert requires it. Other enhancements include two new concession stands and 56 additional restroom stalls. The changes take the total patron capacity from just less than 10,000 to 11,000.
The expansion “will allow us to maintain our position as the premier amphitheater in the state, and allow us to become one of the premier amphitheaters in the country,” said Peter Lane, president and chief executive officer of venue owner Walton Arts Center. CORE Architects of Rogers is handling the design elements of the renovation project, and CDI will serve as the general contractor. The expansion project is expected to start after the close of the 2019 AMP concert series and take seven months to complete. That allows for no interruption of the concert schedule, and shows should resume in 2020, Lane said.
Total cost of the construction project will be an estimated $13.9 million, of which $13 million has already been raised. Walmart retains naming rights; other sponsors include original benefactor Johnelle Hunt and corporations such as Tyson, Proctor & Gamble and General Mills. A new partnership with music industry titan LiveNation makes the organization the “preferred promotor” of shows at the AMP.
These patron-focused upgrades to the facility are one of three need areas identified by a venue master plan created in 2017. The other two need areas – improved artist amenities and back-of-house upgrades – will be addressed in future phases of this expansion.
The additions to the AMP continue its evolution from a small stage to a national draw. The Arkansas Music Pavilion was started in 2005 as a tent in the parking lot of the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville. It popped up there every summer until shifting to a semi-permanent home at the Washington County Fairgrounds. It’s changed ownership several times as well, most recently when it was purchased by the Walton Arts Center. It drew a wide variety of artists in 2018, including concerts by Janet Jackson, Chris Stapleton, Thirty Seconds to Mars and more. More than 200,000 patrons saw an event at the AMP in 2018.
Two shows have already been announced for 2019: Christian artist Chris Tomlin on April 21 and comedian and “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah on June 21.
Details on the expansion plans can be viewed at waltonartscenter.org/amp/2020.