This morning, Frederik Meijer Gardens announced plans for growth and improvements totaling $115 million. The plans would bring changes and additions throughout Meijer Gardens, including many upgrades to the popular amphitheater.

Construction for the project is scheduled to begin this fall and will last four years. Improvements include:

  • A new 60,000 square foot, LEED certified Welcome Center
  • A new 20,000 square foot, LEED certified Covenant Learning Center
  • A new Peter C. and Emajean Cook Transportation Center
  • Expanded and upgraded Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater
  • A new Sculpture Garden Entry Plaza
  • A reimagined and expanded BISSELL, Inc. Scenic Corridor
  • A new Outdoor Picnic Pavilion
  • A new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden
  • Expanded and accessible parking and urban gardens

I contacted John VanderHaagen, Public Relations Manager at Frederik Meijer Gardens, for more on what changes to expect to the amphitheater.

Assuming that the capital campaign is successful, construction will begin in the amphitheater in September after this year's concerts have concluded.

The sponsored seating area and sound/light board area will be completely redone. The temporary tents will be gone while at least 100 permanent seats will replace the folding chairs in the area. There will also be permanent bars added on the east and west sides of that seating area.

There will be more work done after the 2018 concert season has closed.

I haven't been lucky enough to sit in the folding chair area, but I can imagine it's a welcome improvement. Any fixed seating options would be nice. It would mean less crowding from a neighbor who can't keep their chair in a row or doesn't believe in personal space. Plus, the simple stability of fixed seating would be welcome on the sometimes-not-so-stable lawn.

After the 2018 concert season has completed, the current concession building will be demolished and replaced with a building three times bigger.

Shorter lines sound good!

There will be a concession area inside the new building, plus green rooms for performers and three unisex restrooms.

The restrooms will be accessible from outside of the gates as people wait in line for concerts. A great option, as anyone who has ever waited in line for hours will be the first to tell you.

You'll also find four new covered entrance gates which will replace the current three uncovered entry gates.

What about the general seating?

Expect changes there too. General lawn seating will be reshaped and expanded with a possible small increase in capacity. The increase would be less than five percent.

The lawn seating changes are both good news and bad news. Good news because there are areas of the lawn seating, especially off towards both lower sides, that could be better utilized with some improvements. Bad news because most concerts sell out quickly and a small increase in capacity won't do much to help.

That small increase in capacity is intentional.

VanderHaagen explains, "It is our goal to preserve the intimacy of our venue, any capacity increases will be determined after the expansion takes place."

Can't argue with that. The size of the venue is part of what makes it special. A few more seats would be nice, but keeping that unique feel is also important.

(Below is a look at what to expect from the new view inside of the main gates near the concession stand.)

Courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens
Courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens

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