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THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A LOT OF EXCUSES FOR NOT ATTENDING A SUMMER CONCERT AT PARKWEST. BUT IF THOSE WERE YOUR EXCUSES FOR NOT GOING, YOU MAY NO LONGER HAVE AN EXCUSE.United Concerts and ParkWest have pumped more than $500,000 into capital improvements at the popular outdoor concert venue that could turn it into one of the finest facilities of its kind.

Among the improvements:

-2,500 permanent, reserved seats in the lower section. Tickets in this section will cost a bit more, but no longer will concertgoers experience the body crush of thousands pushing closer and closer to the stage.

-Improved, sculptured terraces in the higher sections to improve the line-of-sight of general admission concertgoers, allowing even those in the outer reaches to see who's playing on stage.

-Acres upon acres of grass, all watered by a sprinkler system. Not only will it eliminate the annoying dust, but it will provide a more pleasant seating arrangement for general admission concertgoers.

- Four honest-to-goodness bathrooms, complete with plumbing and running water. And no smell.

- Better lights in the parking lots and daily watering of the graveled lots to reduce dust.

- Improved security and a revamped box office to speed up the purchase of tickets.

In addition, the state has completed work on the highway to ParkWest. It is now a four-lane highway that should make going and coming a lot faster than the snail's pace of the past.

"It's a quantum leap over what's been done in other years," said United Concerts president Jim McNeil of the improvements. "It's always been a fun place to come, but it wasn't as nice as it could have been."

"No one was happy with the way things were. The dust was a problem and the bathrooms were horrendous. We wanted a better place for people to come and party, one that makes people feel more like an honored guest whether they are 14 or 60 years old, or whether they have long hair or are wearing a 3-piece suit. I think we've got it now."

The improvements are also clearly designed to appeal to an older clientele. United Concerts has had a difficult time attracting the over-30 crowd to ParkWest, primarily because of the inadequate facilities and the dust problems.

"We hope it (reserved seating, rest rooms, etc.) will change that," he said. "We're spending a half million dollars to find out."

It is more than just spending money on facilities. McNeil is making a direct appeal to older concertgoers this season by booking bands like Chicago, the Beach Boys, Steve Miller Band, the Doobie Brothers and the original Yes.

United Concerts and ParkWest also hope to expand the usage of the facilities to include classical concerts, dance and theater. With the improvements, McNeil believes ParkWest is poised on the brink of becoming one of the premier outdoor concert sites anywhere in the nation.

"The appeal of ParkWest will expand as we expand what is offered," McNeil said. "The new owner of ParkWest is willing to put money into it to make it a facility to be proud of, and we are willing to spend what it takes to make ParkWest a world class concert facility."