Construction started Monday to renovate Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater, part of a project aimed at attracting more and bigger acts to the region’s signature live music venue.
The first phase of construction is expected to be finished by June next year, ahead of the concert season.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer the structural capacity necessary to host all of the amazing artists interested in making Bend a stop on their tour,” says Marney Smith, Les Schwab Amphitheater’s General Manager.
Smith said the venue had lost out on artists in the past due to stage capacity.
“Solving that challenge allows us the opportunity to provide an even broader and more varied lineup,” she said. Coupled with the planned accessibility updates, this furthers our goal to provide the best experience possible for both our guests and visiting artists.”
Phase I of construction includes “right-sizing” the amphitheater stage to attract a wider variety of touring artists, comedians and other performers, according to the Old Mill District.
The new stage will feature a minimalist design with pine accents to pay homage to Bend’s vibrant sawmill history, and is designed to minimize architectural impact as much as possible.
The stage will grow moderately larger in size with a significant increase in structural capacity, resulting in a stage height of 62 feet and an additional 1,840 square feet in total stage footprint.
Certain elements from the current stage will be upcycled and re-used in later phases, including steel beams and the custom artwork that currently adorns the back of the stage.
Accessibility enhancements begin in Phase I and will include a full Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant pathway from the ADA gate that spans the entire venue, and screens on stage.
Smith said the privately funded project allows Les Schwab Amphitheater to continue connecting Central Oregonians to live music, improving accessibility and continue bolstering the local economy with live entertainment.
Phase II of construction is expected to begin in Fall 2021, with subsequent phases in following years.
Improvements slated for future phases include re-grading the venue, box seating, the addition of semi-permanent restrooms, new permanent food and beverage options, walk-through metal detectors and more.
Accessibility improvements will continue throughout the multi-phased project, providing passive travel and equivalent seating for all abilities by project completion.
The Les Schwab Amphitheater has provided Central Oregon with nationally touring shows set against the backdrop of the brilliant Cascade Mountains and Deschutes River for the last 19 years.
COVID canceled what was shaping up to be one of LSA’s biggest summer concert seasons, axing two shows by country superstar Luke Bryan and shows from Dave Matthews Band, Vampire Weekend and Ween.
Several of the shows have already been rescheduled for next year.
According to a 2015 Visit Bend Intercept survey, the amphitheater brings in approximately $1.2 million per concert to Bend’s local economy.