New amphitheater to be by Stone House

The Brentwood City Council has pulled back the curtain on a long-proposed amphitheater project near the intersection of Vineyard Parkway and Marsh Creek Road.

But city leaders are waiting to act until more important details can be researched and finalized.

The city has about $7.7 million in contributed funds and collected development impact fees thus far, all of which must go toward the project, as dictated in the city’s Vineyards at Marsh Creek development agreement.

Little else about the endeavor is concrete, however.

City leaders heard the results of an outside consultant’s feasibility and market study this week, in advance of further planned discussions on the project during a city council strategic planning session in October.

But the overall recommendations of the study prompted the council to take a step back.

The report proposed building a two-phase, $35 million, outdoor facility over at least 15 years, eventually able to accommodate up to 4,000 patrons.

Financial projections predicted the venue would run at a net operating deficit in the hundreds of thousands, for at least the first 10 years.

The analysis also didn’t take into account input from nearby residents who could be subjected to the venue’s ramifications, such as noise and traffic, one nearby resident said.

“We have a lot of homework to do,” said Mayor Bob Taylor.

The council indicated it would favor a facility built around the already available funds (currently around $7.7 million), which early projections suggest could yield around a 750-seat outdoor venue, with additional room on the lawn.

City officials also pointed out that several factors must be explored before they can even begin to narrow down their options, including community input, the facility’s long-term operating costs, associated fundraising opportunities and any traffic and noise impacts.

“There is still a lot of information that needs to come back to us,” said Councilmember Karen Rarey.

City Manager Gus Vina agreed that additional analysis is needed, but suggested that partnerships, foundations, grants and sponsorships could possibly all be leveraged to reduce the burden of unmet operating costs.

Actor Kyle Conley, a member of the local Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble, expressed excitement about a facility, but cautioned that an outdoor venue would force performers and patrons to combat the sometimes unfavorable weather.

He suggested that the city target something similar to the 215-seat City of Pleasanton Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton, noting that at least eight local dance companies, two theater companies, six choirs and eight bands would immediately embrace it.

The Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble hosted one of its last performances at Edna Hill Middle School, which prohibited daytime rehearsals and required the group to leave at a certain time at night, Conley said.

“We have the community, the arts, and people wanting to do it (perform),” he said. “Let’s give them a building to do that.”

Vice Mayor Joel Bryant mentioned the large movie and music-in-the-park crowds as further proof that a venue of some kind would be welcomed.

“This type of venue can fit hand-in-glove with our community,” Bryant said. “It can be a tremendous asset.”

It’s believed the council will again mull over the project during its October strategic planning session.