Senators Pull For Paolo Shed

The fate of a landmark Santa Fe, N.M., amphitheatre that officials voted to demolish is looking a little brighter following a letter of support for the venue by two state legislators.

The Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre at the Santa Fe Indian School was built in the mid-’60s. Although it has hosted artists including Lyle Lovett, Elvis Costello, Morrissey and John Mayer, officials have complained about the $100,000 annual upkeep on the aging facility, which is seldom used for school events.

In a letter obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, Sens. Jeff Bingham and Tom Udall praised the venue’s long history and said its destruction would be a loss for the community.

“Should the 19 Pueblos and the Santa Fe Indian School decide to pursue a course to preserve this important architectural landmark, we stand ready to assist to ensure [the venue] can be enjoyed by the community for years to come,” they wrote.

But supporting a future for the Paolo Soleri could mean big bucks. Indian School officials said in a statement that estimates from local architects and a contractor pegged renovation costs for the shed at $4.5 million.

The costs would reportedly cover the installation of new bathrooms, drainage, fire-suppression, a new roof for the backstage area and a cover for the seating area, as well as make the venue compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

School superintendent Everett Chavez said in the statement that the senators’ support was welcomed.

“We’ve always been open to anyone offering ‘real’ solutions to our plight,” he said. “We’ve always had three underlying issues: the cost of reconstruction and maintenance of the Paolo, the safety of our students and maintaining our academic agenda.

“Many people claim they want to keep this place, but so far no one has come forward with any money.”

Chavez added that he looks forward to discussing the matter at the senators’ earliest convenience.