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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Ramping Up

City officials closed Mesker Park Amphitheatre in 2012, as its condition had deteriorated since the last concert, when the Doobie Brothers played July 31, 2009. Three years later, Evansville Living asked in “Under the Stars” in the September/October 2015 issue if the venue could be restored.

Nearly a year since then, as the amphitheater has fallen deeper into disrepair, the question is again up in the air.

On June 20, Leadership Evansville facilitated the first of three self-guided tour opportunities and community visioning sessions.

“What we’re doing here today is trying to find out,” says Lynn Miller Pease, CEO of Leadership Evansville, “in a positive, upbeat, fun way, what are some of the possibilities and what can we envision for the future of the amphitheater and that space.”

Community members of all ages shuffled from the amphitheater into a shelter house next door.

“Oh,” says a woman at the door to another entering in a motorized wheelchair. “Could you go down there?”

She can traverse the sharp incline within the venue that’s non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it isn’t easy.

Volunteers handed out popsicles and water bottles as people wrote their memories on a timeline and talked about their ideas with each other, city council members, and Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

“Some here tonight, I know, think we should close it, do something else with this space, and I understand that,” says Winnecke. “Others have great memories and want to see it turned into some sort of performance venue. I fall into that team.”

Winnecke says today’s planning will pay off in 2018, when the City receives payment from the Tropicana Evansville onshore construction.

“There are some built-in impediments to this facility as it stands today,” he says, moving into a list including the inaccessible back dock, leaking stage floor, and inoperable electrical components. “So there are a lot of opportunities, as I like to say, but that means there are a lot of solutions, and that’s why we’re all here, to figure out what we can do.”

For more information about Leadership Evansville, visit leadershipevansville.org.

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