Strawberry Park amphitheater project continues to reach goals, eyes 2023 construction
The goal to build a new outdoor performance venue at Strawberry Park Elementary School is gaining momentum and on track to break ground by June 2023, thanks in large part to the support of private donors, in-kind donations and the Colorado Creative Industries.
“We’re well over halfway if you look at money in the bank, or money that’s committed,” said Stuart Handloff, board chair and executive director of Piknik Theatre, which is behind the effort to build the outdoor performance venue. “We’re over $500,000, and what we are looking at is reaching $200,000 in donations from either private or business interests in the community — That’s the goal.”
The cost of the new amphitheater is just north of $1 million, and Piknik Theater has already gained $275,000 in in-kind donations as well as $60,000 from private donors, another $30,000 from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and $10,000 from the Yampa Valley Electric Association. The Colorado Creative Industries, which is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, extended an offer of $125,000 toward the project.
The amphitheater is being built by the HLCC Construction Company in Steamboat Springs, which is working with Piknik Theater. However, HLCC will need to place an order for the supplies needed to complete the project by March 1. Handloff said that means Piknik Theater will need the donations, or commitments for donations, by that time. Then, they will need to have the money to complete the project in hand by June 1.
To meet those goals Handloff is trying to get the word out about the project prior to Yampa Valley Gives Day, which takes place Tuesday, Dec. 6. He also intends to start a fundraising campaign for the project called 200@$1000 Capital Campaign, which will be an effort encouraging smaller donors to support the project with $1,000 donations.
“These particular donors, and they can be any combination adding up to $1,000, will be specifically honored with a Wall of Fame on the completed project,” Handloff said. “It’s important that we build momentum especially as we near the end of the year and the upcoming Colorado Gives Day.”
If everything goes as planned, the funds to build the amphitheater will be in place in time to order the supplies, and the project can break ground next June.
“The minute school is out, and it’s safe to get on the property, we’re going to start digging,” Handloff said. “We want to have it done by September when school’s back in session, so the kids can use it.”
Piknik Theatre has signed a long-term lease with the Steamboat Springs School District to use the venue primarily in the summer. The school will also have use of the facility.
He said the venue will be used by the schools during the school year starting in 2023, and would also be available to host Piknik Theatre events starting in the summer of 2024. He was also excited about the venue hosting other performing arts events including some out-of-town organizations that are excited to see Steamboat offer this venue.
“We will be able to convince some Front Range theater groups — and I’ve already talked to a couple who are excited about the experience — that don’t get to perform outside very often. They’re really looking at this as something new and exciting, “ Handloff said. “We’ve been doing it for 15 years, but still obviously, gets our creative juices going, so we want to see if we can get that expanded to more of a regional opportunity as well.”
He said all of the events at the new amphitheater would take place in afternoon and early evening hours in the summer. He said the venue will not have lighting, and that events will not extend past 10 p.m.
“Every community up and down the resort scale has outdoor facilities, and certainly they’re used by the various programs in their communities,” Handloff said. “I think ours is unique because it’s going to be tied to educational programming and school district use as well. It’s going to be really valuable at so many different levels.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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