Council candidates say closed Evansville amphitheater could use help from private group


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EVANSVILLE, Indiana — Two candidates for Evansville City Council say a public-private partnership could help revive the closed Mesker Amphitheater.

The amphitheater was shut down in 2012 due to safety concerns, with problems cited including storm damage to the stage roof and mold in dressing rooms. It doesn't currently have seats.

Both council member Al Lindsey and his Democratic primary challenger Jim Brinkmeyer say restoring the amphitheater would be more feasible with the help of a private group, the Evansville Courier & Press ( ) reports.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke has said he's open to suggestions about what to do with the amphitheater. He will meet with the West Side Nut Club community organization about the issue.

Consultants hired by the city have said it would cost at least $10 million to $12 million to restore the amphitheater. The outdoor facility opened in 1951 and has attracted acts such as the Doobie Brothers and Bob Dylan.

"It's a unique venue. It's fallen in disrepair," said Brinkmeyer, who's a member of the Nut Club. "I don't know that the city itself can spend enough money to create a venue that is going to be usable to a point you'll be able to draw the kind of concerts you want."

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden took over management of the amphitheater three years ago. Zoo Director Amos Morris said "there's only so much money in Evansville," and that amphitheater presents a tough decision for the city.

"For me, being director of the zoo, if they can come up with $12 million, I would rather they put it in the zoo personally, but I'm biased," Morris said. "I think it would give the city more return on its capital investment."

Information from: Evansville Courier & Press,

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