Thursday, February 22, 2024

What’s new at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2024? A lot, actually.

The hills around the Red Rocks Amphitheater are alive with the sound of rumbling, beeping and high-pitched sawing as crews work furiously to complete the improvements before the 2024 concert season begins on March 30.

The Morrison Historic Site, owned and operated by the City of Denver, sits on 738 acres of parkland and is open daily to tourists, as well as those strong enough to climb its more than 250 rows of seats and its concrete steps for exercise.

RELATED: Every Upcoming Concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in 2024 (So Far)

With a record around 200 concerts – and dozens of other private, non-musical events – planned for the season, the pressure is on to finish before the ground thaws and music lovers, many of whom come from out of town from the state, are beginning to flock to the park.

“The weather is definitely a challenge,” said Tad Bowman, Red Rocks site manager for a quarter century. “If they move dirt and it gets too wet, it has to dry out. When we had that deep freeze, the ground was so frozen that we had to install these floor heaters just to get the job done.

“The schedule is a bigger issue than the weather,” said Brian Kitts, marketing director for Denver Arts & Venues, the city agency that manages Red Rocks. “If you don’t start before November 12, you will have a very short offseason and a lot of work to complete in four or five months. It is not normal.

Phase 1 of the Red Rocks continuing renovation project is expected to be fully completed by mid-May, with a number of improvements guests will notice immediately, and others they won’t.

Here’s a look at a recent visit to the 9,500-seat venue:

  • The new Evolve magnetometer system, which was implemented at Denver’s Buell Theater, will replace search wands and bags to detect potential weapons, allowing for faster entry, Bowman said.
  • Various rooms in the visitor center at the top of the site are being completely gutted or redone, from the 100-person capacity Ship Rock Grille (which will now include an indoor-outdoor bar and pergola for outdoor dining air) to the Rock Room rental area, a photo and performance gallery in the hallway, and a theater room containing signed guitars, posters and other artifacts from artists who have performed there. Visitors can expect interactive technological enhancements to the exhibits.
  • In the large kitchen, which was moved to accommodate the new layout, electric induction cooktops replaced gas grills and appliances. All gas lines have been removed, Bowman said.
  • Beautifully renovated bathrooms in the visitor center, as well as new family toilets, join the new gender-neutral bathrooms at the bottom of the venue.
  • Crews are expanding and adding sidewalks around the Lower South 1 parking lot. The new sidewalks in the Upper South and Upper North lots also connect to ongoing road improvements. Lower South 1 includes a new staircase to climb the hill from the field to the sidewalk, leading to the trading post and southern entrance to the site.
  • A beautiful new retaining wall made of the same slabs and sandstone as the rest of the amphitheater, quarried in Lyon, shakes up the parking lot floor barriers.
  • To complement the sidewalks – also intended to keep people from having to walk in the middle of the road to get to their cars – new light poles in the parking lot and along the street will brighten up previously dark areas.
  • Slopes in parking lots and along ramps have been adjusted, some by just a few inches, to increase accessibility and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. New parking spaces are also being added on the south side for people with disabilities. The Top Circle, reserved for disabled people on show days, is being removed and redesigned, with lighted rails and easier-to-navigate slopes and curbs.
  • In the south ADA parking lots, two new ADA compliant bathrooms are being added (unfortunately trees had to be removed for this).
  • The upper plaza, once dark during shows, will feature lights hanging from poles along the retaining wall.
  • Stormwater management involves redirecting water flows into narrow ditches along the shoulder, instead of washing away soil that previously collected there.

Improvements will resume in fall 2024 as Phase 2 kicks off, but the project is more of an ongoing concern, Bowman said, with the venue constantly being improved to meet new customer needs and city regulations and the state.

“There will still be a little work after the season starts due to frozen ground and asphalt issues, but we’re trying to get all of that done over the next few weeks,” Bowman said as he stood on the grounds of Red Rocks. stage under a $6 million roof installed in 2021. “It’s always an uphill climb.”

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