New Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Construction Begins

by August 15, 2012 • 6 comments

We’ve been quiet around these parts and figured we owed you an update on the improvements that are happening at Aaron Bessant Park.  I had a quick chat with Mario Gisbert, the newly appointed City Manager, yesterday and he presented me with all the enhancements coming up.  And let me tell you, it looks fantastic.

The ground breaking ceremony was a few weeks back and they’ve already made some good progress, despite all the rain.  The projected “contractual” completion date is on December 13th with final completion to be 1 month after that.

Amphitheater acoustics design

The improvements of the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater is something that has been quite a hot topic. Workshops and public meetings have been a instrumental in hearing the public’s opinion and residents have come out in droves in support and opposition to the improvements.  Some of those against the new amphitheater have had concerns with crowding and sound and those for it think it will be a huge draw for the area for performers and tourists to spectate.

Read all our articles on the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater here.

One of the clear concerns of the public was acoustical insulation in order to keep the sound where it is wanted and away from where it is not. The entire design is centered around this concern.

Every surface on the interior of the structure will be lined with acoustical insulation material that is protected by a wavy, perforated metal material that will help with sound absorption and a protector to the insulation material.  Furthermore, the speakers will be oriented in a way for maximum sound isolation, so that they won’t project outside the event boundaries.  But this isn’t to say you won’t see some sound fragments lingering in areas outside the event, but the sound levels will be within the acceptable and approved ordinance levels.

Design and layout of the amphitheater

The architectural design has evolved quite a bit since our last discussion.  Originally it looked like a literal transplant of the Pier Park style and feel, towers and all.  But with public opinion weighted in and acoustical analysis considered, the design has taken on more individualistic characteristics.  However, it still feels consistent with the area and beachy design direction.

Some of the things I find cool is the thoughtfulness of the layout with respect to the performers.  The object of the new amphitheater is two fold: 1) a better user experience for the spectator, 2) a solid infrastructure for the performer to come in and have minimal setup.

For the performer, all they need to do is pull their tractor trailer up to the built-in loading dock (behind the screen to the east) and unload.  They can hand their lights and speakers from the already installed support system, hook right into the power and they’re good to go.  There are secured and lockable areas on either side of the stage to store equipment overnight (think weekend festivals) and the entire back side of the stage opens up with huge airplane hangar doors to add an additional loading area or to air the facility out.

The stage is 60’x40′ with an 8′ thrust out front increasing the stage area considerably.  The overhang of the roof structure is about 12 feet.

New soccer fields, parking

Concurrent with the development of the new amphitheater is the development of 3 new soccer fields in the current sand field behind the park.  In addition to soccer fields, this area will double as parking for larger events.  The field will be leveled with a layer of clay added to the top, then compacted soil and traffic resistant grass, just like Frank Brown Park’s festival area is now.

Pictures and building design plans

In this shot you can see what the new Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater will look like from the front.  On either side of the stage, the white areas will serve as screens for performers to be projected for the audience. Just above those panels will be supports to hang jumbotrons or some other video screen if the provided screens aren’t what they’re looking for.

To the right, in the structure behind that screen panel, will be the dressing room area.  This will provide an area for the performers to prepare and rest.  There are actually two separate dressing rooms, each with their own full bathroom and a green room. In addition, on that side of the amphitheater there is an administrative office for support staff and secured storage.

To the left, in the structure behind that screen panel, is the loading and storage area.  There is an opening that is large enough and at the right height for a semi truck trailer to pull right up and off load equipment.  In addition, there is a large amount of storage area.

If you’re standing in front of the stage, looking towards the structure, the wall on the back side of the stage are actually airplane hangar doors that completely open.  On this back side of the structure, the height is perfect for backing up a panel or pickup truck for loading and unloading.

 

 

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1 Cathy August 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

That is so nice, I’m sure it will be enjoyed by all…. classic modern looking & when finished there will be no need for crews to work so hard putting up a stage & sound equipment.
This was a much needed project!
Great article Jason, happy to see you back!
🙂 Cathy/Tennessee

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2 JOE JEZEWSKI October 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Couple of questions……..Is this outdoor venue going to have a gentle slope up and away from the stage…..like a hill? BC if not, the viewing from afar will be horrendous for many! Agree? What is the capacity? BC I can tell you…THAT is the MAIN draw for promoters/concert managers….they’re interested in $$$, not a nice green room or such for the entertainers! I can assure you of that! Case in point-I live in Dothan, and our nice civic center has NEVER “pulled” top talent. Why? BC the capacity/seating is only like 5,000 people…and promoters CANNOT make money w/those small numbers, unless the tickets are jacked up to like $85+ per person! PLEASE LET ME KNOW ABOUT THE SLOPE/HILL, as ANY outdoor theatre worth it’s salt HAS ONE! (see Chastain Park or LAkewood Amp./ATL. for examples)….

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3 Janice Dordick January 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

what a terrible name for such a nice amphitheater. A more tropical name would have been much more appealing. Who the heck is Arron Bessant and even if he did have a lot to do with the project, the name just isn’t inviting.

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