The Grace Hartman Amphitheatre at Bell Park needs another 500
seats and a roof. The cost of the expansion and roof is pegged
at $5.2 million. The city has $1.4 million set aside for this
but it needs another $3.8 million and has been trying since
January 2014 to find corporate sponsors to help cover some of
the expenses. The problem is that the Amphitheater must retain
the name “Grace Hartman” and so far, no sponsors have stepped
The amphitheatre was reconstructed in 2011
at a cost of $5 million.
Currently, the amphitheater operates on
annual expenses of about $200,000 while it brings in revenue of
about $60,000. The additional seats will increase the seating
capacity to over 1200 fixed seating plus more on the grass
behind the seats. This will produce more revenue for the group
booking the facility, but it is not likely to increase the
revenue much to the city. It is also going to increase the
annual expenses, so whatever additional revenue is earned will
most likely be eaten up by the increased expenses.
The deadline for sponsors to submit
proposals has been extended until September 16, 2014.
The new city council elected in the October
27, 2014 election is going to be faced with a touch decision
with respect to the amphitheatre. Should we spend another $5.2
million on the expansion and roof and continue to operate the
facility at a loss of $140,000 a year or just leave it as it is
until we get the funds from a sponsor?
It is a beautiful venue for concerts and
performances, but we have such a short outdoor season. Only 30
to 40 events are booked annually between April and September,
averaging about 6 events per month. So this would mean an
investment of $5.2 million for about 40 events per year in order
to lose $140,000 per year in net cost.
The cost of maintaining the amphitheatre is
not an issue since this is something that the city needs to have
available in Bell Park. The problem is with the extra expense of
the roof and expansion and if this is going to increase the
revenue much as a result. If it generates an additional $100,000
to $200,000 per year in corporate sponsorship, then it may be
worth the investment. But that is a big if.