The ASO will thus become the only U.S. orchestra to simultaneously operate two major amphitheaters; for over three decades it has performed concerts at Chastain Park Amphitheater, a 6,500-seat venue in an outlying Atlanta neighborhood. The investment by the Woodruff and the ASO in the new Alpharetta venue will increase the ASO's operating budget to more than $50 million, ranking it among the largest orchestras nationally in budget size.
The preliminary design plans for the amphitheater, which is expected to cost $35 million and scheduled to be completed in summer 2008, call for covered seating for 7,000, with additional lawn seating that can hold 5,000 or more audience members. The design is expected to be completed by the end of March, with groundbreaking by June 1.
The amphitheater will be paid for primarily through bonds issued by the Woodruff Arts Center — to be repaid through the operation of the amphitheater — as well as a $5 million grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, and two $1 million grants from the City of Alpharetta and the Fulton County Arts Council.
In addition to the amphitheater, long-range plans for the Encore Park for the Arts in north Fulton County include a performing and visual arts complex and education center.