PHOTOS: Walmart AMP expansion complete but waiting for a concert

Peter Lane, CEO of the Walton Arts Center and Walmart AMP, talks about the newly expanded amphitheater in Rogers during a media tour on Thursday.

Photos: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

When large-scale concerts are safe again, marquee touring acts will have a new and improved place to play in Northwest Arkansas.

Construction crews at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion have spent the atypically quiet summer putting the finishing touches on a renovation of the amphitheater in Rogers, which opened in 2014. The $17.2 million renovation project was announced in November 2018 – then with a price tag of $13.9 million – with an expected completion before the 2020 concert season.

But that timeline was set prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has canceled or postponed every concert scheduled for the 2020 concert season. Construction work continued, however, and on Thursday morning, AMP officials showed off the new AMP to a small crowd of mask-wearing media members and other invited guests. Construction work was completed on the original seven-month timeline, said Peter Lane, CEO of the Walton Arts Center and Walmart AMP.

“This is not how we envisioned unveiling our expanded facility,” Lane told the assembled media and corporate guests on Thursday. But with work complete, and new sponsors on board, it felt like the right time for the debut. A larger celebration will take place when it is safe to do so, Lane said.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

New to the facility are a larger box office and an expanded entry pavilion. The entire section beyond the grass-covered lawn area has been reconfigured with the idea of enhancing patron experience at the venue. Two restrooms with more than 60 stalls were added, as were additional concession stands, all in the name of cutting down wait times. When patrons are waiting for a drink or to use the restroom, a video system will broadcast the on-stage proceedings on 19 dedicated displays placed throughout the venue.

The most prominent feature of the new area is the Choctaw Plaza, named after corporate sponsor Choctaw Casino and Resort. The covered plaza is centered above and behind the lawn. The more-than-12,000-square-foot plaza features viewing areas and an 80-foot-long bar. For some events, the area will be an expansion of the lawn area with open seating. For other events, the area can be cordoned off into public and private areas.

“Everything is designed to be multipurpose,” Lane said.

The plaza area brings the venue’s capacity to about 11,000, up from about 10,000. The lawn area and up-front seating areas have not changed, although the lawn area did receive new turf in the remodeling process.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Out of public view are a series of improvements designed with the performers in mind.

“Our backstage areas needed more amenities to attract the largest acts who tour the country,” Lane said.

Backstage improvements include four new dressing rooms, a new green room, an expanded catering kitchen with a dining room area, and a laundry facility.

The improvements that were made take into account feedback from artists who have already visited or things the AMP staff has learned in years of hosting artists. For example, the new dressing rooms are in a different wing of the backstage area than the old dressing rooms, and that’s helpful when two bands on the same tour are no longer on speaking terms – something that’s happened before at the AMP, Lane said.

The venue remains closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The box office is closed for walk-up costumers but is open for phone and web inquiries.

Currently, the next event scheduled for the venue is a concert by country crossover artist Maren Morris, slated for June 5, 2021. The concert was rescheduled from her originally scheduled event on Oct. 9 of this year.


More photos

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer


This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit onlyinark.com.
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