Adding another 500 seats would cost $1.2 million, bringing the total to between $4.7 million and $5.2 million. The staff report recommends adding the items as budget options, which means a final decision would be made when the 2014 budget is finalized.
“As indicated in the report, there is $1,382,070 in funding which is available for capital improvement of the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre,” the report says.
That would bring the net cost of the improvements to less than $3.9 million. The review of the amphitheatre’s business plan was prepared by Yallowega Bélanger Architecture. It found that while annual expenses were estimated to run around $189,550, actual expenses were $242,614 in 2012, the first full year the renovated facility was open, declining to $218,298 this year. Revenues were estimated at $60,000, but only reached $42,154 in 2012, before surging to $60,842 in 2013.
The amphitheatre was busier this year, as well, with 31 events booked between late March and the end of September. That compares to 23 between April and September in 2012. As part of the review, festival organizers and other users were consulted, as well as members of city staff.
“The review ... reaffirms the previously outlined collective decision concluded in the business plan (prepared by Novita, March 2010), which was to ensure the amphitheatre’s mandate continues to serve the community first, while still being welcoming to commercial and touring attractions,” the report says.
“Also, in order to fully support larger community festival type events, a recommended scope of work, including a new roof structure and additional fixed seating, is recommended.”
Specifically, to make the amphitheatre a better place to hold festivals like Northern Lights Festival Boreal and Summerfest, the report recommends:
-Installing 60 new fixed seats within the existing fixed seat area, as well as converting grass seating to 600 fixed seats to create 1,221 fixed seating capacity.
-Constructing a roof over the existing and proposed fixed seating area, ensuring all fixed seats have roof coverage. The remaining grass informal seating would be left uncovered.
-Increasing the backstage area in the amphitheatre building to relieve congestion between musicians, event managers, city staff, promoters and sound crew.
-Increasing visual barriers from the park to the amphitheatre stage area by installing additional angular metal fencing.
The amphitheatre was built in 1967 as a centennial project and was named after Grace Hartman, who was mayor at the time. About $5 million in renovations were completed in 2011.