A master plan for downtown Athens that officials are discussing includes the addition of an open-air amphitheater for the northeast Georgia city.
If not an open-air amphitheater, then perhaps an enclosed arena instead.
WSB-TV reports that Paul Cramer, executive director of The Classic Center downtown, is proposing that an enclosed arena be considered.
“Cramer raised the idea of an enclosed arena during a recent meeting of The Classic Center Authority, the board that oversees the existing downtown convention and performance space, the news station reports. An enclosed arena would get more use than an open-air amphitheater,” Cramer said.
The amphitheater is a prominent feature in the master plan, which is a document prepared as a guide for the development of the downtown area for the next couple of decades. The plan, which was prepared by University of Georgia professor Jack Crowley, along with help from UGA students, and with considerable public input, cost the city $30,000. It was funded by the Athens Downtown Development Authority.
The master plan was formally accepted by Athens-Clarke County commissioners in 2014, and a commission committee has been working to implement aspects of the proposal.
“In the plan, the amphitheater is located near The Classic Center, on county-owned property above Hickory Street in the eastern end of downtown Athens, facing the North Oconee River,” the article reads. “The plan envisions the amphitheater constructed in stages, with an initial capacity of 1,500 to 2,500 people under covered seating, and hillside seating for an additional 2,500 people. Possible future expansions, based on use of the proposed amphitheater, could bring the seating capacity to as many as 10,000 people.”
Cramer contends that an enclosed arena would get more use than an open-air amphitheater.
“Cramer said Tuesday that, in his view, an arena would represent a better opportunity than an amphitheater for Athens to truly lay claim to its reputation as a center for music. And, Cramer said, an arena could host a wider variety of events than an amphitheater, bringing people and their dollars into town from communities beyond Athens for events such as cheerleading and gymnastics competitions.”
Cramer said his view is that the amount of revenue generated would be "significantly higher with an arena than an outdoor amphitheater.
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