by Robert Bell
The Walton Arts Center announced this evening that the organization will move its Arkansas Music Pavilion from Fayetteville to a new, permanent location in Rogers. The outdoor venue had been located at the Washington County Fairgrounds since last year, after the WAC was unable to come to a lease agreement with the new owners of the AMP's original home at the Northwest Arkansas Mall.
Construction on the new outdoor venue is set to begin in August, with a completion date expected in summer 2014. The site is near I-540 and Pinnacle Hills. Land for the new AMP was donated by Hunt Ventures Inc., and according to the WAC, 91 percent of the funding for the $11 million project has already been committed. The new venue will be able to seat 3,000 under a tarp roof, with space for an additional 3,000 folks on the lawn.
I think it's fair to say a good number of people in Fayetteville are feeling a bit sore about the move, especially in light of the fact that the WAC announced in late 2010 that it would build its new 2,200-seat performing arts center not in Fayetteville but in Bentonville. There's some lively discussion over at the Fayetteville Flyer about the move, as well as the WAC board's recent proposal to restructure the organization. It's also worth noting that not everybody is sad to see the venue leave Fayetteville. Several Flyer commenters who live within the vicinity of the fairgrounds said they could hear every note of every concert at the AMP. You gotta wonder what the reaction might be from the tony gated communities of Pinnacle Hills to hearing Ted Nugent or whoever playing at top volume at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night.
The WAC's press release is after the jump.
WAC Council approves plans to build a permanent outdoor amphitheater in NWA
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (May 28, 2013) —The Walton Arts Center Council approved plans to build a mid-sized, permanent outdoor amphitheater that will attract headlining artists and bigger audiences to Northwest Arkansas. As part of a multi-campus expansion to grow arts and entertainment in the region, the new venue will serve as a major stop for big touring concerts in the MidSouth, competing with markets like Dallas, Tulsa and Kansas City. For concept renderings of the permanent AMP, visit AMP DROPBOX.
Officials expect construction to begin August 2013 with the goal of opening the new venue by summer 2014. With 91% of funding already pledged toward the $11M project and a generous land donation from Hunt Ventures, Inc. at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, WAC staff and board can focus the fundraising and planning for Walton Arts Center’s Dickson Street campus expansion. For more information about the Walton Arts Center expansion plans, visit www.waltonartscenter.org/futureplans.aspx
Growth of the AMP
The temporary site at the Washington County Fairgrounds has served as a springboard for larger stage set-ups and expanded programming. During the 2012 season, the AMP presented bands like Big Gigantic, Five Finger Death Punch, Miranda Lambert, Hank Williams Jr. and the Avett Brothers. This represents a diverse variety of music with a mix headliners and mid-tier artists of all genres, which yielded a 200% increase in ticket sales and 93% increase in audience attendance.
Peter Lane, President/CEO, Walton Arts Center says, “With last year’s success, we also had weather-related and logistical challenges related to operating at a temporary site. But we are proud of the growth and excited about the possibilities of a permanent amphitheater on a site specifically dedicated to outdoor music!”Lane adds, “Patrons and artists deserve a quality experience including a permanent pavilion that minimizes the risk of show cancellations due to weather; amenities like easy access in and out of the venue, comfortable seats, air-conditioned restrooms and upgraded sound and video capabilities. We will look forward to serving the growing demand in Northwest Arkansas and providing a summer destination for traveling music-lovers, whom we know spend about $36 on top of the price of a ticket, positively contributing to the growth of our local economy.”
Search for a Permanent Site
Walton Arts Center purchased the AMP in February 2011 with the goal of expanding the venue to serve a broader and more diverse audience. The AMP has been operating at the Washington County Fairgrounds since moving from the NWA Mall in 2012. After a record-breaking season in 2012, it became clear that a permanent and dedicated site was needed to sustain a profitable business model and meet the growing need for arts and entertainment in the region. Over the last year, Walton Arts Center officials have met with municipalities and developers all over the region, including in Fayetteville and Springdale, to search for a new location. Not only does the Pinnacle Hills site have every characteristic for a permanent venue including proximity to I-540, multiple access points, ample parking and a supporting infrastructure, but it also includes a generous land donation from Hunt Ventures, Inc.
A New AMP Experience
The Pinnacle Hills location is ideal for a regional outdoor amphitheater with visibility from I-540 and central location in a commercial district with restaurants, shopping outlets and hotel accommodations.
The new and enhanced facility will include features such as:
· Seating capacity for more than 6,000+ people
o 3,000 comfortable seats, protected from the weather
o 3,000+ lawn seats with improved sight-lines
· Convenient location right off I-540 (20 minutes from anywhere in NWA)
· Ample parking with easy access in and out
· Entry plaza and drop off area (with wheelchair accessibility)
· Upgraded concessions and air-conditioned restrooms
· 5,590 sq. ft. stage house that can accommodate most touring acts on the road today
· Upgraded technical capabilities including advanced video, lighting and audio
· Artist lounge, dressing rooms, production offices and storage
The AMP will remain at the Washington County Fairgrounds through the end of the summer. For the most current information about the AMP and the 2013 line-up, visit www.arkansasmusicpavilion.com.
The Arkansas Music Pavilion — known locally as the AMP — is Northwest Arkansas’ premiere outdoor concert venue. The AMP has presented headlining concerts for the past nine years, including the best of every genre — from rock and country to electronica and pop. The AMP has been a Walton Arts Center venue since February 2011 and is currently at Washington County Fairgrounds.