Renovated Dillon Amphitheater hosts first concert
The new and improved Dillon Amphitheater officially opened for the season last month, inviting guests for the first time to experience a broad range of new amenities and programming along with the return of some classics.
The eclectic band The Nacho Men headlined the opening day concert, singing tunes from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
“Dillon has long been looking at our Town Center and looking to revitalize it,” said Kerstin Anderson, director of marketing and communications for the town of Dillon. “But because we weren’t seeing a lot of development opportunity, the council made the decision to start investing in things like the amphitheater and town park that attract people to our town.”
Anderson said the decision to create a new venue was formed around need. Without adequate green rooms, changing rooms or bathrooms it was difficult for the town to attract the kind of high-level talent they were interested in. Now, almost a year after construction began, the facility is back and ready to rock with a slew of new features.
The new facility cost about $9.7 million to build. The town received about $1 million in grants from the Department of Local Affairs, and more than $125,000 in donations and in-kind services from the Summit County Government and The Summit Foundation. The town also took out a $5 million loan, and took the rest from cash saved in the general fund.
The only remaining piece of the original amphitheater is the seating bowl, which holds about 3,500 individuals. Up top, the venue features a brand new concessions building that will serve wine and beer, sandwiches, burgers, snow cones and other concert fare. The town also quadrupled the number of bathrooms on-site, adding a new restroom facility at the top, as well as three others added to the stage on the ground floor. The restrooms will be open during the day for people traveling along the recreation path. The top of the venue is also a new walking area known as the walking plaza.
The facility’s interior has been built with two new green rooms, three new changing rooms and a larger stage than ever before. The venue is also now equipped with an ADA accessible ramp.
Anderson noted that there is still landscaping work to be done at the amphitheater, which the town hopes to wrap up by next summer. There will also be ongoing lighting upgrades, but with opening day creeping closer, additional upgrades will have to wait.
“I think it’s such a cool facility and people are going to be pleased,” said Anderson. “We’d love to have it 100 percent buttoned up. But it’s safe, and so we’ll just have to be patient with some of those other moving pieces.”
Currently there are dirt patches surrounding the seating areas, but this time next year they should be lush beds of shrubs and flowers.
While improvement to the facility is nice, it’s the increase in the diversity and vibrancy of programming which is most exciting. In addition to return of the traditional free concert series, the amphitheater will also offer paid concerts for the first time this year.
“Our free concert series is one of the pillars of Dillon’s identity,” said Anderson. “So we will continue to offer those. But we’re excited to be able to layer in a paid concert series which allows us to bring in national acts we otherwise couldn’t afford.”
Anderson noted that ticket and concessions sales will be used to help supplement the costs of the paid concerts and that the town isn’t expecting to make a profit. Visitors will be allowed to bring lawn chairs for free concerts, though they will not be permitted for paid shows.
In addition to some notable acts like the String Cheese Incident and George Clinton set to play this year, the amphitheater will also be opened up for non-musical programming.
On Sunday nights, the amphitheater will host free Movies on the Water nights, alternating between family friendly movies and more adult classics. There will be dancing nights on Wednesdays and yoga with a view on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
“We have the most picturesque venue in the county,” said Anderson. “I think we will become known nationally as one of the best outdoor venues around. And I think it’s really an opportunity to invest in a community aspect of the town that’s used so much by residents and the greater community. This is the marquee destination on summer nights.”
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