St. Augustine Success Story

A Florida shed that reopened last May after a complete overhaul is getting accolades from local officials for covering nearly all its operating expenses in the first year.

When the St. Johns County Commission voted unanimously to oversee the St. Augustine Amphitheatre last March instead of farming out the job to a facility management company, expectations were that the venue would lose less money operating in-house.

County Commissioner Ron Sanchez presented findings at the time that showed a county-run facility would lose about $116,000 in its first year compared with the $341,000 an outside-managed shed could lose, the St. Augustine Record reported.

The 4,000-capacity venue, which received nearly $9 million in bond money to fund its renovation, was projected to see profits by 2010.

But the way things are going, it could be sooner.

County spokeswoman Karen Pan recently told the Florida Times-Union that while there were concerns the shed wouldn’t be able to make enough money to sustain operations, the first-year performance silenced those fears.

"We were anticipating that it would take a few years to break even," Pan said. "But now we’re at 87 percent; we’re very impressed with that."

The venue, which has hosted concerts by artists including Little Richard, ZZ Top, Trace Adkins and Modest Mouse thus far, took an innovative approach to keeping business going during the off-season by transforming into a winter wonderland complete with an ice rink and blown snow.

Upcoming shows include Boston, G. Love & Special Sauce, O.A.R. and The Black Crowes.