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New amphitheater brings promise of summer fun
Sandy planning free concerts to show off $3.2 million facility

SANDY -- It's one thing to build a fancy new $3.2 million outdoor amphitheater to bring the performing arts to Sandy residents.

It's another to put talent on the stage and deposit people in those 2,500 seats.With the 13,000-square-foot amphitheater rapidly nearing completion, city officials are now moving ahead with preparations for the first summer of entertainment in the new facility.

One of the first matters of business was to establish a new community affairs division to run the amphitheater and develop cultural activities in cooperation with the Sandy City Arts Guild.

Mayor Tom Dolan appointed Richard L. Davis, who has been serving as the city's public relations director and assistant to City Administrator Byron Jorgenson, to the new post of Sandy community affairs director.

Davis, one of those Renaissance Man types who packs both a masters degree in public administration and a banjo, is better know as "Rick" when he's playing with his Bluegrass band.

And he's been finalizing plans for a summer entertainment schedule that will introduce Sandy residents to the new amphitheater with a grand opening gala Aug. 21-22 and a performance by the Utah Symphony Orchestra on Aug. 23.

"We have five events planned for the amphitheater in 1999, and three of them are free," said Davis. "We want people to come out and kick the tires on this facility.

"This amphitheater cost about 40 percent of what the Sandy City Hall cost," he noted. "This is a chance for the city to pay some dividends to our citizens."

Other summer events will include a Broadway Under The Stars musical review Aug. 27-31, a Bluegrass music festival on Sept. 4 and an International Singers Showcase on Sept. 10 that will feature many of Utah's top vocalists.

Davis also is mapping out the summer 2000 concert season and anticipates Sandy will have its own Fourth of July show. Tickets for next year's season will go on sale Aug. 2, and the city hopes to sell 2,000 season tickets.

"Our goal is to run the amphitheater without a subsidy from the general fund," he said. "We'll sell sponsorships and season tickets" to ensure the concert season pays its own way.

Davis said the amphitheater is the first part of a three-phase plan to turn the northwest corner of 9400 South and 1300 East into a 22-acre "art campus" that will enhance the aesthetic quality of life for Sandy residents.

Future additions, he said, will include an indoor performing arts center and a community arts center with a children's theater.

Bryant Anderson, a city councilman who serves as liaison to the Sandy Arts Guild, said the indoor facility is already in the planning stages and predicts architects will begin work within the year.

Development of the arts campus, he noted, "will build a stronger sense of community, promote our city as a great place to live and do business, offer a greater number of uplifting activities and meet the needs of our citizens to develop their talents."

Davis said preparations also are being made for a Monday Night Concert Series in the summer of 2000 that will showcase aspiring local artists.

City officials broke ground for the new amphitheater in February, and the project has been on a fast construction track ever since.

There are 500 conventional seats in the facility, with lawn area that will seat another 1,500 to 2,000 people per performance.