Shed’s Fate In Debate

Officials in Knoxville, Tenn., are discussing the fate of an aging amphitheatre constructed for the 1982 World’s Fair, and their decision could provide for either the complete renovation or complete razing of the shed.

The 1,500-seat Tennessee Amphitheatre, situated in the city’s World’s Fair Park, was constructed of steel trusses and a canvas tent at the time of the fair. Later found to be structurally unsafe, the shed was slated for demolition in 2002, but the city’s mayor stepped in to save it.

Little public support has been garnered for the structure’s revitalization since.

Jeff Galyon of the Knoxville Public Building Authority, which manages the facility, presented four options for the amphitheatre to city council members November 2nd, and said the most important element of a renovation would be the replacement of the steel trusses, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

“The trusses, it turned out, at the factory were manufactured incorrectly,” Galyon told the paper.

Galyon’s estimates for a complete overhaul, including updates to the shed’s audio-visual equipment, restrooms and concessions, along with the structural renovations, were about $3.4 million.

A second option, which called for the complete removal of the tent and minor upgrades, came in at $2.1 million.

Removing part of the tent and providing minimal updates would cost nearly $445,000, while completely demolishing the structure would cost about $665,000.

Before a decision can be made, the council must weigh the fact that the venue has lost favor, hosting few events in recent years, partially due to the success of a concert series in the city’s Market Square entertainment district, City Policy Director Bill Lyons told the Sentinel.

“Everyone who was doing anything with entertainment in Knoxville said there was no way you could make money on it,” Lyons said.

The council will review further feasability studies before making a final decision on the shed.