October 10, 2011
Sunken Garden Theater May Get $20 Million Facelift
SAN ANTONIO -- Known for his redevelopment, restoration and management of the Majestic and Empire Theaters in downtown San Antonio, Kirk Feldmann said he now wants to do the same for the Sunken Garden Theater in Brackenridge Park.The chief executive officer of ACE Theatrical Group said the historic amphitheater built to mark the state's first centennial in 1936 and once home the San Antonio Opera, "has floundered over the last 25 years."
He said city maintenance has been limited leaving the theater surrounded by rock cliffs and a section of U.S. Highway 281, "a diamond in the rough.""It could be San Antonio's Hollywood Bowl," Feldman said in what is "San Antonio's Central Park."Feldmann said he has proposed "a spectacular transformation, a $20 million improvement to this facility."He said he wants to split the cost 50-50 with taxpayers if the restoration is added to projects in an upcoming bond election next May."We're going to invest a lot of private capital so we'll be in this for the long term," Feldmann said.Other than the bond issue, Feldmann said he will not seek further financial help from the city.
"We're not expecting any circumstances where we would need any further subsidies," he said. To become part of the bond package, Feldmann said he is appealing to "local citizens, with arts and community groups, politicians and city staff."But he said public input is vital during a series of community meetings of the citizens bond committee, the first scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday at the city's One-Stop Center located at 1901 S. Alamo.Feldmann said he is counting on those who have memories of Sunken Garden Theater's glory days to help put the issue on the May ballot.Now that the Verizon Amphitheater has closed, "San Antonio no longer has a professional, outdoor amphitheater for live entertainment," Feldmann said.Without that, he said major acts like Bob Dylan, Sade and Clint Black have preferred playing in medium-sized venues outside of San Antonio.He said the restoration would be done "in a technically advanced way so that productions can use it."
Feldmann said it would have a larger backstage and new loading docks and its own box office plus new bathroom facilities and permanent concessions for its patrons.He said the seating area also will be expanded for audiences up to 6,500, and it will have overhead sunscreens and trellises.Feldmann's spokesman said the citizens bond committee's recommendations for the May bond election are expected to go before city council early next year.