Discuss continues on out of doors amphitheater in Steamboat

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After initial discussions with Steamboat Creates and Steamboat Springs City Council, the Parks and Recreation Commission and city officials are working to find a space for Steamboat’s first outdoor amphitheater.

The decision was taken by a 6-1 vote this week, with Commissioner Sam Rush voting against the recommendation, believing that the city’s staff are limited in their time and resources and they are not asking too much of them wanted.

Dagny McKinley, Director of Development at Steamboat Creates, stressed that Steamboat Creates would cover all of the costs of building the amphitheater and creating an endowment fund for its maintenance and that they are only looking for the city’s support in finding a spot.

“We’d love to have a space where people can play guitar, read poetry, and gather as a community,” McKinley said. “We want to make sure that our impact with parks and recreation is as small as possible.”

Before Steamboat Creates considered considering city land, it had made inquiries with Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs High School, and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, and is still considering these options. Although most of them were fraught with problems like parking and rules for selling alcohol.

“Our process right now is to look at all possible options and then bring back the best,” McKinley said.

Park and Recreation Commission chairman Calder Young said he wasn’t sure the city currently has land for an amphitheater. If not, more land may need to be purchased.

In previous discussions on the subject, councilors have shared different views on whether or not the city has the square.

“We had a discussion earlier about housing construction, and I’m not sure if we still have land surplus,” said City Councilor Kathi Meyer. “When we’ve done it, we should use it for residential purposes or our third fire station.”

Councilor Lisel Petis disagreed, saying land that could house an amphitheater may not be suitable for residential use.

“Maybe I’m missing something, but I can think of several places,” said Petis. “I don’t know why we should stand in the way of an innovative idea like this, at least exploring it.”

While the idea has been debated for several years, McKinley and other artists said the COVID-19 shutdown highlighted the need for a creative outdoor space.

“At the moment, the Strings Music Festival is the only stage in Steamboat that can accommodate our organization,” said Jennifer Robinson, Managing Director of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra. “An amphitheater would be far less expensive than the millions of dollars it would take to build a brick-and-mortar building.”

An outdoor structure could also operate in the winter as Steamboat Creates could install heating options, according to McKinley. Funding for the structure would come from nonprofits through ticket sales.

“It’s something we don’t have here in town,” McKinley said. “We have many hiking and biking trails, but we don’t have this central meeting point.”

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