Draper's amphitheater dream finally coming true

By Jennifer W. Sanchez

The Salt Lake Tribune

It's not what Draper amphitheater enthusiasts dreamed of for more than a decade, but they are pleased that the conservative $1 million project is well on its way.

Ken Murdock, a Draper real estate broker, started an amphitheater fundraising committee six years ago. So far, it has raised about $200,000; the city will pitch in the rest of the money.

"We're really, really excited," he said. "It seems like it's been an awful long time."

After more than 10 years of public officials trying to figure out plans for the 5-acre amphitheater and park, they expect to have it open by summer.

Last spring, the City Council debated several theater plans - - they ranged in cost from $1.2 million to $5.4 million - - before picking the least expensive available option to construct the outdoor-only theater.

In October, the council approved a $50,000 theater-design contract with Sandy-based Method Studios for Architectural Services. The firm updated the council on the project's process last month, said Draper City Manager Layne Long.

Designers are putting the final touches on the plans and expect to extend bids for a builder later this month, Long said. The theater -- it originated in 1996 as an unfinished project donated by a developer -- is scheduled to open this summer, he said.

The facility will cost an estimated $600,000, and about $350,000 will be used for the park grounds. The facility will have a ticket booth, changing

rooms, storage space, concession stands, restrooms and 200 theater seats that will be added to the existing concrete stadium seats. In all, it will accommodate about 1,000 people, Long said.

Murdock, who sits on the city's park, trails and recreation committee, said it was "a nice dream" to want a bigger and better amphitheater, but "we didn't have the money that we thought we did."

Still, he said the group plans to continue raising money to improve the theater's basic sound and lighting systems, as well as creating theater programs.

In December, a Salt Lake County facilities master-plan study reviewed more than 60 proposed projects and recommended 15 for some public funding, including the Draper amphitheater renovation.

It is unclear if Draper will now seek more funding.