A new amphitheater for outdoor concerts is coming to Manchester.
Workers broke ground this month on the project, just weeks after the Manchester City Council approved a $542,983 bid to complete the new addition to Paul A. Schroeder Park. Officials expect it to be completed March 31.
"The idea of constructing an amphitheater was in the initial master plan 20 years ago," said Eileen Collins, Manchester's parks director.
The cost of construction will be covered by a $330,000 grant from the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County, $197,983 from the city's 2011 budget and a $15,000 private donation from the Corey J. Donnelly Memorial Scholarship Fund, set up on behalf of a Parkway South High School graduate who died in a car crash in April 2003. The new facility will also be dedicated in the name of Donnelly.
Schroeder Park was established in 1993 and has continued adding features over the years. Schroeder includes tennis courts, volleyball courts, basketball courts, an aquatic center, a disc golf course, playgrounds, soccer fields and several pavilions.
"The amphitheater will be located just south of the Cabin and Smoke House and will hold various concerts from local bands.
"Hopefully, we will also work with the (Parkway) school district and church groups in the area," Collins said. "This will allow them to have a facility in an outdoor setting to offer jazz band showcases, plays and other extracurricular school events."
Previously, the city had to pay to bring in a temporary bandstand for summer concerts and events. Not only will it have a permanent, covered structure providing lights and sound, but Collins said it will also have restrooms, handicapped access and lawn seating.
Before construction began on Nov. 3, two Parkway South High school juniors, Sean Duffy and Jake Hunn, put on a Haiti relief concert at Schroeder Park under one of the pavilions just as a spur-of-the-moment idea to raise money for a cause.
"I would definitely take advantage of having a public amphitheater at Schroeder," Duffy said. "Public amphitheaters are always great for local performing arts groups, as well as for other things like movie nights and other public events."
According to Collins, anyone will be able to rent the space. The fee for the 22-foot-by-36-foot venue will be $20 for Manchester residents and $40 for non-residents.
Size doesn't matter, said Harry Stroot, 62, of Manchester—a regular at Schroeder Park.
"Since it's so close to home, price of admission and size of the amphitheatre itself isn't important to me," he said. "Not to mention that my wife would drag me along either way."
As a weekly visitor to Schroeder Park, Stroot said he would be willing to view any show as long as it has some entertainment value. Stroot also said that after this is constructed, there will be no need to make any more additions to Schroeder.
"As of now, there's already a variety of things at this park and it's extremely family oriented," he said. "It's perfect the way it is."
"After the construction of the amphitheatre, there are no future plans at this point," she said. "We are just updating the facilities and equipment that we currently have."