Near the end of last year, members of Council and former City Administrator David Dryhaug met with TRZ staff regarding needed improvements to the Amphitheatre.
Since then, the City has continued to take a hard look at the improvements needed, beginning with replacing existing and adding new restroom facilities.
As a result, at the September 26th Committee of the Whole Meeting, City staff recommended that we remove the current restrooms and replace them with a new, low maintenance facility that would double the capacity. They also recommended we construct a new restroom near the box office that would not only serve the Amphitheatre, but provide facilities to the athletic fields and eliminate the need for Parks and Recreation to rent port-o-lets. These facilities would be constructed of block and concrete floors with metal roofs, which will improve the maintainability and offer a more permanent facility.
Obviously, the optimal time to make such improvements is during the off-season. The new contract with TRZ and their contract with Live Nation presents a great opportunity for Simpsonville by bringing higher caliber shows to the Amphitheatre. Simpsonville stands to make more money than ever before, and our facilities need to reflect our commitment.
Based on an estimate from the Fire Department General Contractor, the estimated cost of the improvements is $350,000 to $400,000.
Remember that Heritage Park Amphitheatre is funded through Hospitality & Accommodations (H&A) tax dollars (not your property tax dollars). Those dollars go into our Special Revenue Fund. And those dollars can only, by State law, be used for tourism-related expenditures (i.e. we cannot buy Public Works equipment with H&A funds). We make payments for HP from that Special Revenue account. For example, the upgraded chairs at HP were financed, and each year, we make a payment towards that debt. The money for that payment comes from H&A (our Special Revenue Fund). Thus, it is important that we always maintain enough of a balance in that account to make all of our necessary payments (to cover our “debt service”).
In consulting with our Finance Director and our Financial Advisor, staff determined that we can use up to $400,000 from the current H&A balance without negatively impacting our credit rating or our ability to pay our debts. This would allow us to make these improvements during this off-season (starting soon!).
Based on all of this information, Council voted unanimously to allow staff to issue an Invitation to Bid to determine whether or not we can make this happen–and happen on time. If we can, you’ll see this on future agendas because we’ll have to amend the 2017-18 budget ordinance (which takes two readings) to allow for a one-time transfer from the H&A fund balance to pay for these improvements.