Volunteer Park amphitheater replacement project gets $900K boost

The old amphitheater still stands — for now (Image: Volunteer Park Trust)

There is still more money to raise but a Seattle Parks District grant will go a long way toward making the planned replacement of Volunteer Park‘s crumbling amphitheater a reality.

$900,000 in funding for the project was announced Thursday in a grant that will help the Volunteer Park Trust replace the park’s old masonry stage “with a modern structure that meets community needs for a versatile outdoor performance space” while enhancing “the historic Olmsted landscape” of the park and putting the facility in full ADA compliance.


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The district says the project will also improve the space as a performance venue with improved acoustics and noise control, plus better safety, and access while reducing maintenance costs.

In April, CHS reported on the effort to pare back the design for a new amphitheater to give the proposal a more attainable budget. Total construction costs for the project are now estimated at $2.7 million. According to the announcement, additional City of Seattle funding has been identified for improving the amphitheater restrooms.

The ORA Architects design could relocate the amphitheater as well as add a roof, handrails for accessibility and updated bathrooms. Unlike the fight over the $54 million expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum within the park which finally broke ground earlier this year, the community reception to the amphitheater redesign has been mostly positive.

The Volunteer Park Trust must still raise the rest of the money to cover the $2.7 million price tag. It is hoping one key element might help seal the deal for support from across Seattle — especially as winter rains approach. The new amphitheater will “be the only outdoor performance space in Seattle with a roof for protection during inclement weather,” the group says.

You can find out how to support the project and learn more at volunteerparktrust.org.

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18 thoughts on “Volunteer Park amphitheater replacement project gets $900K boost

  1. I’m excited for these changes at the park! It’ll be nice to take in some music performance at a new stage, and the museum expansion opening is something to look forward to. And even with these changes, there’s still plenty of park to enjoy.

  2. I’m having trouble seeing the need for this project, especially at this price. Not being a social event sort of person I must ask. Will this amphitheater be used? Is the current one used? And will it be used enough to justify 3 million dollars in construction and maintenance costs, or will this be another homeless hangout? Looks like a great place to set a tent or twelve.

    I’m really interested in opinions.

    • The current one is used. We can expect that with the improvements, it will see even greater use.

      While there are homeless in the park, I have never seen people camped out on the existing stage.

      Volunteer park is a treasure and I’m glad to see investments being made to make it even better!

    • And will it be used enough to justify 3 million dollars in construction and maintenance costs, or will this be another homeless hangout?

      So we should not make improvements to our City because a concern troll fears that the improvements may be used by the homeless?

      • First, not a troll. As stated,I am really interested in the question. Although homeless may not hang out at the current amphitheater the proposed new one is covered, making a much better location for a campsite.

        I have no objection to improvements. I have objections to little used improvements. There is only so much money.

    • I think the real crime is the Seattle Art Museum giveaway at Volunteer Park; the amphitheater is a much more deserving project.

      Everywhere has homeless now, and the city doesn’t have the will nor the money to fix it. It’s a “real emergency”, can’t you tell? We’ve definitely made it priority one. Oh sure, it falls behind painted crosswalks, sprucing up the Neighbors alley, and handing the Mariners millions, but it’s an emergency nonetheless.

      • Just because we can’t agree on how to solve the homeless crisis, doesn’t mean the City needs to shut down. I know rainbow crosswalks and other improvements for some reason seem to trigger you, but you need put on your big boy pants and get over it.

        Every time the City proposes something (Urban Reststops, head taxes, drug treatment services, etc) to mitigate the homeless crisis, people like yourself have a fucking toddler style meltdown and the proposals go nowhere, but you keep screaming about the problem. It’s utter insanity.

        The sad thing is that you probably think you’re some conservative voice of reason.

      • First, you don’t know me so please don’t speak for me.

        I am not a conservative. But the current approach is not working, and everyone is arguing over who cares more while the homeless suffer. If you think I’m a crazy conservative for that, well too bad. I work on 3rd Avenue and see the neglect day in and day out.

        I am not saying shut down the city. In no world are rainbow crosswalks and the Neighbors alley a priority over homeless human beings.

      • First, you don’t know me so please don’t speak for me.

        I am not a conservative. But the current approach is not working, and everyone is arguing over who cares more while the homeless suffer. If you think I’m a crazy conservative for that, well too bad. I work on 3rd Avenue and see the neglect day in and day out.

        I am not saying shut down the city. In no world are rainbow crosswalks and the Neighbors alley a priority over homeless human beings.

    • The 2017 booking records for the Volunteer Park Amphitheater show 54 events with over 39,000 people attending. What’s more, 40% of these attendees came to events either produced by organizations operating out of underserved communities (Central District, Rainier Beach, etc), or producing events for these communities (such as the annual Eritrean Independence Day celebration). The new facility will offer even more possibilities for performances (such as dance!) without increasing audience size.

  3. “Unlike the fight over the $54 million expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum within the park which finally broke ground earlier this year, the community reception to the amphitheater redesign has been mostly positive.”
    I would suggest community reception to the SAAM rehab & expansion has been mostly positive as well; there was a vocal minority opposed to it.

    • The article emphasized approval of the design. The same article didn’t spend a lot of time discussing its potential popularity as a venue. This is my question. Thanks to all who respond. I’m not opposed to this project per se. I only question whether it is a good use of limited funds.

      • I think it is a good project, and a wise use of public funds. It may attract some of the nuisances you referred to, but it will be used throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall for theater, music, etc.

        The real issue will be about maintenance. Will there be sufficient funds and energy to maintain the venue when it faces the slings and arrows directed at all nice things in this city. I give you Bobby Morris as an example of failure in thst regard.

      • Glenn, don’t get me started on park maintenance. We build more and more parks and they deteriorate. The only A Grade I give the parks department is garbage pickup.

      • As part of the design process Volunteer Park Trust held multiple focus groups with over 30 performance companies and community groups to design a facility that would have the broadest possible use. You can find their reports at their website’s Amphitheater page: http://volunteerparktrust.org/current-projects/amphitheater/ As for maintenance, the new facility is expected to maintain or even reduce costs(!): it will have new plumbing, new fixtures, steel construction (instead of bricks and concrete) and the roof will be made of ETFE – a virtually self-cleaning material due to its anti-adhesive properties.

  4. Volunteer park doesn’t need more events, more traffic, more noise. Let the park be a park. Is there any evidence that there are too few venues for dance and music on Capitol Hill?

    • There are many dance and music venues on Capitol Hill – if you can afford to go. All events at Volunteer Park are free and open to the public. 40% of events held at the Volunteer Park amphitheater are either attended by people from underserved neighborhoods (like the Central District, Rainier Valley, and First Hill) or produced by organizations operating out of them.

      And we’re not talking about just concerts. Every year the amphitheater stage is used for community celebrations like Etritrean Independence Day, public awareness events like Seattle AIDS Walk, and sports events like Seattle Criterion. The Volunteer Park amphitheater is an important free community resource for people throughout Seattle and beyond.

      Volunteer Park Trust did its homework – they commissioned traffic and acoustical studies as part of their early planning, which show reduced noise for the neighborhood and minimal impact on traffic and parking. You can read both reports starting on page 76 of their Feasibility Study and Design Report here: http://volunteerparktrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/VPAmphitheater_Final-Report_03-08-2016-With-Attachments.pdf

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