Loudy-Simpson Park might house Amphitheater | CraigDailyPress.com

Loudy-Simpson Park might house Amphitheater

Andie Tessler

— Since 1988, County Commissioner Tom Mathers has had a dream: to bring an amphitheater to Moffat County, built on the 14 acres of open land in Loudy-Simpson Park.

“To me, that would just make it a complete park,” Mathers said. “Many communities have (amphitheaters) and it just lets you do so much more in the entertainment world.”

At the moment, putting on a concert in Loudy-Simpson Park costs $7,000 to $8,000 because of the expense of bringing in the stage, lights and equipment, Mathers said.

A permanent venue could potentially save the county thousands of dollars by reducing the amount of money spent on the basic set-up costs for events, he said.

“We would definitely save money not having to bring everything in every time.” Mathers said. “We would build it using our natural resource and mineral money so that it wouldn’t be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

A design for the venue has not been chosen, making it impossible to estimate what the facility would cost, but even using the facility only once or twice a year would balance out the cost, Mathers said. Ideally, the amphitheater would seat upward of 10,000 people.

A large amphitheater could bring more cash to Craig. Larger events drawing larger crowds and more out-of-towners would bring an influx of revenue for the city as people spend their money in shops, restaurants and hotels.

“I think Tom has a great idea there,” said County Commissioner John Kinkaid. “I think making improvements to Loudy-Simpson is one of the things we can do as a county to bring more people to the park and I think there would be a better, more enjoyable atmosphere for concerts as well.”

The plans are currently in the research phase. Mathers has visited multiple communities to see how they went about designing and constructing their venues. Styles range from a simple clamshell-shaped seating area to stages with a full theater setup.

This weekend, Parrothead Captain John Husband and Director of Parks and Recreation Dave Pike are in Telluride taking notes on the amphitheater while they take in a bluegrass festival.

“We want something that will fit Moffat County,” Mathers said. “We’re looking at what other communities have and we’re trying to come up with something that people will really be able to enjoy, but right now we don’t know what it would look like.”

Mathers hopes that the community will rally behind the idea he’s held on to for 15 years, and input in always appreciated, regardless of whether you support the project or not.

“Loudy-Simpson is the gem of Moffat County,” Mathers said. “This would just be a great thing for Craig. Our summers are so short, we should be able to get the most out of them.”

Andie Tessler can be reached at 970-875-1793 or atessler@CraigDailyPress.com.