"We definitely wanted this summer to be vibrant and active," said D.J. Baxter, executive director of Salt Lake City's Redevelopment Agency, which owns and operates the Gallivan Center.
The city's partnership with United Concerts suggests that this summer's Twilight Concert Series, produced by the Salt Lake City Arts Council, will remain at Pioneer Park instead of moving back to its previous home at the Gallivan Center.
The free Twilight series is scheduled to run on Thursdays from July to Aug. 25, and United Concerts has so far scheduled two Thursday concerts on the same nights.
The announcement of the Twilight lineup will be made near the end of the month, said Casey Jarman, series director. He said he's "90 percent sure" the Twilight series will be at Pioneer Park a permit for the park is already on file and he's told musicians they will be playing there.
Jarman said he believes the Twilight series has outgrown the capacity of Gallivan Center which United Concerts believes will hold 4,000-5,000 concertgoers but admitted he was "not too happy" about one city-sponsored event being in direct competition on Thursday nights with another city-sponsored event.
"There are some artists who could only come on Thursday," said Talitha Day, Gallivan Center director. "We are trying not to schedule shows on Thursdays [because] we don't want to compete."
Overall, Gallivan will look different when its stint as a hard-hat area is concluded in early June. And it should: The city's redevelopment agency used $8.5 million in tax increment money (a portion of property taxes collected from businesses in the redevelopment district) to renovate the center, built in 1992, in the 200 South block of Main Street.
The grassy area next to the stage will be nearly three times as large, while the ice rink will be enlarged and moved to the east side of the square. The rink will have a new cooling system that will keep it open further into the spring. A new two-story building on the west end will house banquet space, the rink's ice resurfacer and, best of all for concertgoers, 45 permanent restrooms a much more comfortable amenity than the previous porta-potties.
Officials say Gallivan Center will be a vital part of a new downtown. "It's going to be so wonderful with the new City Creek development and people moving downtown," Day said. "It's going to be perfect."
United Concerts president Jim McNeil said the company competes with itself when booking concerts at The Depot and Usana Amphitheatre, as well as at venues such as the EnergySolutions Arena and Maverik Center.
United Concerts hasn't hosted a concert at Gallivan since a free John Denver/Eddie Money/America concert before the 2002 Olympics. But McNeil said his company "had a lot in common" with the city's redevelopment agency in wanting to attract more visitors downtown (where The Depot and EnergySolutions Arena are), as well as providing another outdoor series in addition to Red Butte Garden concerts and others.
"They've done a really good job of repositioning, with adding more grass and moving the ice rink," McNeil said. "We're excited to work with the city and the RDA."
Day returned the compliment about United Concerts: "They are a shot in the arm."
In addition to United Concerts, radio station U92 will hold its annual Cinco de Mayo show (featuring Cypress Hill and Baby Bash) at the Gallivan Center in May, and its Summerjam concert there in July.
The center will hold a free grand opening show with The Sam Bush Band on July 9 and is planning a Fourth of July show, along with a series of "Wednesday Rocks" concerts, "Viva SLC" on June 11, and performances by Utah Symphony | Utah Opera.
"Salt Lake City is growing up," Day said.
Selected Gallivan Center concerts
This series is promoted by United Concerts at the downtown plaza, 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City
Thursday, July 7 • Toad the Wet Sprocket, $25
Sunday, July 10 • The Avett Brothers, $35
Saturday, July 16 • Grace Potter, $20 in advance, $25 day of show
Sunday, Aug. 7 • Amos Lee, $26 (Note: tickets purchased for the original date at The Depot on Feb. 1 will be honored)
Thursday, Aug. 18 • B.B. King, $30
Info • Tickets go on sale Friday, April 22, at Smith's Tix outlets, www.smithstix.com, 801-467-TIXX, 1-800-888-TIXX. Listed ticket prices don't include service fees.
Note • At this point, picnics will be allowed, but no outside beverages (alcoholic or nonalcoholic).