St. Augustine Goes In-House

A county commission in Florida recently voted to manage a local shed itself, in spite of reports in recent months that Signature Sports & Entertainment or SMG could be taking on the job.

The St. John’s County Commission voted unanimously to manage the St. Augustine Amphitheatre March 20th, the St. Augustine Record reported, and will now proceed in its search to hire a general manager and staff before the venue opens April 22nd.

County Commissioner Ron Sanchez presented his findings from a study of other regional amphitheatres and found that a county-run facility would lose about $116,000 in the first year, much less than the $341,000 an outside-managed shed could lose, the paper said.

Tommy Bledsoe, who previously served as the venue’s operations manager, explained it will take time to see a profit, the Record reported, but that the venue will provide much to the community in the long run.

"Nobody’s claiming it will make money in the first year," he said. "But it will impact tourism, restaurants, hotels, the quality of life and overall well-being of this area. People will get a fantastic concert in a beautiful setting."

Commissioners are projecting the venue will see profits by 2010. The 3,500-seat amphitheatre has reportedly received about $9 million in bond money for renovations since 2004. Debt service on the bond amounts to about $235,000 per year, and is covered by sales tax revenue, according to the Record.

The first show on the books for the renovated 42-year-old facility is the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival May 4-6.