A $17.2 million project to expand the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) in Rogers is complete, backed by a number of significant funders, including Oklahoma-based Choctaw Casinos & Resorts.
Venue officials on Thursday (Aug. 20) announced Choctaw as the newest financial supporter for the project during a tour of the expanded facility for city officials, expansion partners and the media. The company’s support will be visible among the most noticeable changes for patrons at the AMP — an expanded space at the top of the lawn, which includes the Choctaw Plaza. The 12,300-square-foot covered space has an 80-foot bar and flexible seating area for concert viewing and event rentals.
“At Choctaw Casinos & Resorts we’re all about providing the best entertainment experiences and serving a broader audience,” said Erica Kosemund, senior director of brand marketing for Choctaw Casinos & Resorts. “The Walmart AMP Theater is dedicated to doing the same and we greatly enjoyed working with them on this project. We are so excited to be able to finally show it off today and we look forward to the day we can really celebrate this amazing venue.”
In addition to Choctaw, key financial backers of the expansion include Hunt Ventures, Walmart Inc., General Mills, Tyson Foods, Procter & Gamble, Visit Rogers and Live Nation. Their support, according to Walmart AMP officials, directly covered construction costs for the expansion, and their corporate names are attached to various areas of the venue.
Construction began in November 2019, following the final concert of the 2019 season. The project was completed in just seven months during the venue’s off-season and in time for what would have been the 2020 concert season. Core Architects of Rogers was the project designer, and CDI Contractors, with offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville, was the contractor.
Concerts have been absent from the Walmart AMP this year due to COVID-19.
“This is not how we had envisioned unveiling our expanded facility — and we will do a larger celebration once health and safety guidelines allow,” Peter Lane, president and CEO of Walton Arts Center and the Walmart AMP, said in a statement. Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville owns the AMP. “Still, we thought it was important to take this opportunity to thank our expansion and construction partners and to give a behind-the-scenes look at the venue and the work we have done.”
Uncovered plazas, each 1,350 square feet, flank Choctaw Plaza and provide additional restrooms, concession stands and gathering space. Below the new plaza spaces is an expanded entrance with additional gates and shaded space.
The main gate has also expanded with additional gates and shade for workers and patrons. Between the entrance and the main gate, the venue can now operate up to 12 gates at once, which increases traffic flow into and out of the venue, according to a news release. The main gate opens to the expanded entry plaza, which is double its original size at 19,500 square feet and includes 36 additional restroom stalls and a new concession stand.
The box office has expanded from four service windows to seven. The previous box office, now inside the venue on the main entry plaza, will serve as an internal box office for seating upgrades or purchasing special offers for upcoming shows.
Backstage, four luxury dressing rooms with private bathrooms bring the venue’s total dressing room count to eight. An artist’s green room, shower room for tour crew and a laundry facility were added to better accommodate tour needs. The updated catering kitchen can now serve the expanded dining room that seats 80, double the original capacity. The loading dock has also been expanded to accommodate six trucks instead of four, which allows faster load in and out for tours.
“None of this would have been possible without our 20|20 Expansion Funders and their commitment to the vision and to our community,” Lane said. “Their support has allowed us to complete this large-scale construction project despite the pandemic, which is truly amazing. Because of this project, the Walmart AMP will be able to remain competitive in the touring industry which will benefit our entire region when tours resume.”