Talk continues on outdoor amphitheater in Steamboat

After initial discussions with Steamboat Creates and Steamboat Springs City Council, the city’s Parks and Recreation commission and staff are moving forward on finding a space for Steamboat’s first outdoor amphitheater.

The decision was made through a 6-1 vote this week, with Commissioner Sam Rush voting against the recommendation, as she felt city staff were limited in their time and resources and she did not want to ask too much of them.

Dagny McKinley, Steamboat Creates development director, emphasized that Steamboat Creates would cover all costs for building the amphitheater and creating an endowment fund for its upkeep, and that they are just seeking the city’s assistance in locating a spot.

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

Before considering city land, Steamboat Creates had inquired with Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs High School and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp and are still considering those options. Though most of those came with issues such as parking and rules around selling alcohol.

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

Calder Young, parks and recreation commission chair, said he wasn’t certain if the city currently had land for an amphitheater. If not, more land might need to be acquired.

In previous discussion about the issue, council members shared varying views about whether or not the city has the space.

“We had an earlier discussion about housing, and I’m not sure that we have any excess land,” said council member Kathi Meyer. “If we did we should be using it for housing or our third fire station.”

Council member Lisel Petis disagreed, and said land that could hold an amphitheater may not be suitable for housing.

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

While the idea has been in discussions for several years, McKinley and other artists said COVID-19 shutdowns underscored the need for an outdoor creative venue.

“Right now, Strings Music Festival is the only stage in Steamboat that can accommodate our organization,” according to Jennifer Robinson, executive director of Steamboat Symphony Orchestra. “An amphitheater would be far less costly 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 McKinley said Steamboat Creates could install heating options. Funding for the structure would come from nonprofits through ticket sales.

“This is something we don’t have here in town,” McKinley said. “We have a lot of hiking trails and biking trails, but we don’t have that central gathering place.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.