Public input sought on Riverfront Amphitheater Project

The City of Muscatine will host a public information meeting to share the conceptual drawings for the Riverfront Amphitheater in Riverside Park from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23, in the Riverview Center, 110 Harbor Drive. This will be an open house format with no formal agenda for the meeting.

This will be the first of several meetings that will be held to gather feedback from community members on the conceptual drawings of the facility to be located in Riverside Park.

The new amphitheater, “The Wave,” will be a multi-purpose entertainment and recreation venue intended to service both small celebrations and large community events according to RDG. The facility will serve as a destination for a host of community events including concerts, outdoor movies, festivals, theatrical performances, and community celebrations with a stage built to accommodate up to 60 musicians and lawn seating for up to 4,500 people.

“Once built, the Riverside Park amphitheater will add to our quality of life by helping us grow our music and culture community,” Muscatine Mayor Brad Bark said.

Maestro Brian Dollinger, music director for the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra and a member of the design committee, is excited about the prospect of performances outdoors.

“There is really nothing like performing outdoors, under the stars,” Dollinger said. “Once ‘The Wave’ is built, Muscatine will truly have a one-of-a-kind amphitheater.”

Rich Dwyer, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Kent Corp., knows how important of an addition to Muscatine the amphitheater will be.

“Our ability to recruit and retain employees is heavily influenced by the quality of place offered here in Muscatine,” Dwyer said.

A healthy community and a vibrant community were two focus areas of the 2021 Strategic Plan adopted by the Muscatine City Council, and the amphitheater aligns well with these areas.

“As we continue to invest in and develop community recreational and cultural amenities, we contribute to a healthy community and a vibrant community for our citizens and an attraction for visitors,” Carol Webb, City Administrator said. “By creating these amenities, we create a quality place that people want to work in, live in, and play in, and that contributes to community health, happiness, and well-being.

A 1997 Consensus Plan Mississippi Riverfront Study was completed through a series of stakeholder meetings with entertainment facilities (including a riverfront amphitheater) identified as a key goal in developing a strong link between the riverfront and downtown area. That goal was included in the 2012 City Comprehensive Plan, the 2017 Riverside Park Master Plan, and was included by the City Council during their December 2021 Goal Setting Session.

In recognition of past riverfront planning and the goal of constructing a riverfront amphitheater, City  Council solicited proposals for development of a conceptual design for a riverfront amphitheater in early 2021. City Council awarded a contract to RDG Planning & Design in July 2021 to develop a conceptual design for the facility.

Following approval of the contract, City staff assembled a committee of city staff, citizens, amphitheater user groups, and elected officials. The committee and the consultant met over the course of six months to collaboratively develop the amphitheater design. The committee process for developing the conceptual design included:

  • Development of the vision and goals for the amphitheater (local and regional concerts, theater, dance, festivals, recurring local events, small events (weddings, etc.))
  • Review of benchmark case studies
  • Identification of target audience (50+ mile radius)
  • Possible revenue and income sources to operate/maintain the facility (concessions, ticketing, etc.)
  • Development of facility programming (main stage, structure/canopy, light/sound, crew/storage space, restrooms, seating, traffic to/from stage, etc.)
  • Development of site plan (e.g., location and orientation of amphitheater, location of support   facilities, etc.)
  • Review of estimates of probable cost
  • Capital campaigning process and development of campaign materials

That design was completed with recommendations from the committee moving forward to a public process that includes public meetings and a fundraising campaign. The completed designs were presented to City Council during the January 13, 2022, In-Depth session.