Dillon Amphitheatre’s million-dollar view now has the facility to match it | SummitDaily.com

Dillon Amphitheatre’s million-dollar view now has the facility to match it

With its facelift set to be completed by early summer, the Dillon Amphitheatre will be ready to house bigger bands and greater crowds. They've announced an initial lineup — the biggest name on that list being Colorado jam band The String Cheese Incident on July 17 and 18. The announcement was one that excited and ignited the Summit County music scene and will likely put the Dillon Amphitheatre on the map as one of the best outdoor music venues in the state.

With views of the Tenmile and Gore ranges as its backdrop, the Dillon Amphitheatre was already a summertime favorite for locals, but with the recent improvements, the venue should be able to house bigger and better acts. The multi-million dollar upgrade began in the fall of 2017 and features a larger dance floor, new restrooms and a larger capacity with a couple hundred more seats for concertgoers.

"We didn't have the infrastructure we needed. We had no official green room, no loading or unloading space. When the NRO (National Repertory Orchestra) played we had to set their equipment cases behind the stage in the dirt. So, we tore it down, pushed it back closer to the reservoir, created bathrooms and green rooms for the bands," said Kerstin Anderson, director of marketing and communications for the town of Dillon.

The Amphitheatre's grass seating stayed the same — though the grade was softened — and is still in a bowl shape, curving around the stage. It's more ADA accessible, and there are now concession stands and a festival plaza at the top.

“ We are really looking to estalblish the Dillon Amphitheatre as one of the best outdoor facilities in the nation.”Kerstin AndersonTown of Dillon director of marketing and communications

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"The festival plaza will have food trucks, local street vendors from the Summit County area. We envision a mixture of folks milling about and we will stage all of our food there," said Dillon's event manager, Matt Miano.

With these additions the venue is estimated to house an extra couple hundred visitors — roughly 3,650 people in total. Both Anderson and Miano said the updates should increase the enjoyment at the Amphitheatre, but that they still need to figure the new venue out.

"It will still be adjacent to the lake and the apartments. And it's still a really cool and intimate venue. It's not our goal to make it bigger, but to increase the flow of the facility," Miano said.

That flow is what attracted the Incident to Dillon.

"We reached out (to The String Cheese Incident) and included the plans of the new venue and the views, and they were just blown away by it," Anderson stated.

Bands don't know the Amphitheatre as a bucket-list venue — yet. The Dillon Amphitheatre could become the next Red Rocks-like space, but only time will tell as Dillon continues to understand the logistics of its new venue. Once they have a better understanding of its flow and capacity, it's likely more acts will be announced in the future.

"You got to trust us, we have good stuff in the works. There are many bands we are trying to nail down," Miano said.

Judging by how quickly The String Cheese Incident sold out, it seems locals are just fine with the lineup thus far.

"String Cheese opening up the new venue is huge. People are really excited about that," said Gary Koenig, owner of Affordable Music. "It sold out as quick as we could hand out tickets."

Tickets to The String Cheese Incident at Dillon Amphitheatre were initially sold online. And because of how rapidly the virtual tickets were sold, the town decided to sell roughly 250 more tickets for each night on Friday, March 16, at 11 a.m.

"There was a line of 100-plus people when we started selling at 11, and 10 (minutes) after noon they were all sold out," said Koenig. "There were just enough to satisfy everyone in line."

The tickets were gobbled up in an hour, showing the excitement for Summit County's local music scene.

"Having String Cheese shows what our venue can do," Anderson said.

The announcement of String Cheese is huge for the local scene, and a major introduction to what lies ahead for the burgeoning venue. The more bands the Amphitheatre brings, the more conversations will be sparked from one band to another.

For now, the town stresses that there will still be free shows and community events throughout the summer.

"If people think all the shows will be paid, that is not the case. We will still have free Friday and Saturday concerts and community programs, like movies on the water," Anderson said.

Holiday concerts are also in the works, such as a nighttime concert for the Fourth of July, featuring the U.S. Air Force Academy Band, which has played the venue before. Dillon is also excited to host a collaboration with the Colorado Symphony and the Wicked Divas.

This program features Elphaba and Glinda from the Broadway production "Wicked" and will showcase the depth of their high-flying talents. In addition to favorites from "Wicked," the program also includes highlights from "Gypsy," "Ragtime," "Titanic" and selections of "Carmen." Christopher Dragon will conduct this collaboration and Alli Mauzey and Nicole Parker will be vocalists. Unlike most shows at the Amphitheatre, this one on Sunday, July 29, will kick off at 6 p.m.

From String Cheese to Broadway show tunes, the Amphitheatre's lineup showcases the breadth of entertainment offerings. Keep an eye out for lineup additions by visiting TownOfDillon.com and looking under events. Renovations should be complete no later than the middle of June, giving the venue and its staff enough time to have a grasp of the changes.

"We are just thrilled to have a million-dollar facility to match our million-dollar views," said Anderson. "We are really looking to establish the Dillon Amphitheatre as one of the best outdoor facilities in the nation."

This story originally published April 19, 2018, on summitdaily.com. It appeared in the Explore Summit 2018 summer magazine.