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When Walnut Creek Amphitheater opened in July 1991, it was the state's largest outdoor concert facility, costing $13.5 million to build and seating 20,000. Its peak year for attendance was 1994 when it attracted over 500,000 visitors. However, attendance has dwindled over the years. With the facility now hosting few shows and containing 310 acres of marketable land, the question is--should Raleigh sell the amphitheater?
There are several problems with Raleigh’s new amphitheater. The city looks likely to open the amphitheater without a sponsor and Raleigh’s taxpayers will have to pay for part of the construction as a result. The competition for amphitheater’s and securing artists to perform in them has grown in the Triangle lately. People who have attended concerts in local amphitheaters often complain that they are too big, too plain, or too quiet. Area venues will have to work hard to fix these problems to fill the theaters with people and attract artists to the Triangle area.
The issues surrounding Raleigh’s new amphitheater are not going away. The venue opened over the past week holding two shows and was labeled a success by politicians and local media. The news was intended to cover up the failure to secure a sponsor for the venue and booking committee showed they are lacking the desire to book exciting new acts.