Here's when downtown Austin's newly renovated Waterloo Park will reopen
Waterloo Park, Austin's premier downtown park, will reopen to the public after years of renovation with a free "CommUNITY Day" on Aug. 14 that will feature live music, family activities and other events. The park’s central feature, the new Moody Amphitheater, will present its first ticketed event Aug. 20 with a concert by Grammy-winning Austin musician Gary Clark Jr.
The 11-acre park has been closed for a decade as the city and Waterloo Greenway, initially known as Waller Creek Conservancy, worked on redeveloping the area as part of the Waller Creek Tunnel project designed to address constant flooding threats. As reported by the American-Statesman, the cost of the tunnel project rose from $25 million when voters first approved it in 1998, to $68.3 million when the city asked Travis County for funding help in 2006, to $150 million in 2014 and then to $161 million in 2016, when the city added money to cover design flaws.
The cost of the park renovations, $88 million, were paid for by a mix of public and private money.
The Aug. 14 event will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will include Mayor Steve Adler and City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison as well as Waterloo Greenway leaders. Community partners — including the Mexican American Cultural Center, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Capitol Metro — will set up information booths in the park.
A day of children’s activities, environmental programs, and musical and performing arts events (including a performance by Ballet Folklorico de Austin) will follow the ribbon-cutting at newly created park areas, including an open plaza, a tree-covered deck and a hillside garden. The event will conclude with a concert at the Moody Amphitheater featuring local performers still to be announced.
Clark’s Aug. 20 concert (the date was changed from an Aug. 21 date initially provided to media outlets) will be the first event booked into the amphitheater by Austin-based C3 Presents, a subsidiary of Live Nation. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday via ticketmaster.com.
Tickets for a half-dozen C3 Presents concerts in September already have gone on sale: Rebelution on Sept. 9, Glass Animals on Sept. 12, Counting Crows on Sept. 15, Sylvan Esso on Sept. 17, 311 on Sept. 28 and Quinn XCII with Chelsea Cutler on Sept. 29.
That busy month suggests the amphitheater is well-positioned to capitalize on a glut of touring action this fall, as musicians finally get back on the road with the coronavirus pandemic receding. Don’t expect that six-shows-a-month pace to continue, however: According to John Rigdon, director of planning and design for Waterloo Greenway, C3 will be limited to 35 shows in a calendar year at the amphitheater.
Other free and ticketed music events outside of C3’s realm may happen with more regularity at locations throughout the park, according to Kathy Miller, Waterloo Greenway’s interim CEO.
C3/Live Nation also recently partnered with the University of Texas and developer Oak View Group to build the similarly named Moody Center, which will open a few blocks northeast of Waterloo Park in 2022 as a replacement for the soon-to-be-shuttered Erwin Center.
“This park is the result of years of hard work and dedication from our city partners, project team, donors, board members and many others who share our goal of reviving Waller Creek for the benefit of all,” Miller said in a press release announcing the grand opening event.
On Tuesday, city officials and Waterloo Greenway representatives guided a media tour of the park, which is bordered by 15th Street to the north, 12th Street to the south, Trinity Street to the east and Red River Street to the west.
Its features include a children’s playground with a stone slide and a “log jam” climbing apparatus; gathering spaces such as Lebermann Plaza and the Meredith Heritage Tree Deck that may be used for smaller performances; and Luci & Ian’s Family Hill Country Garden, which features plants and trees native to the area.
The amphitheater is an open space of grass and concrete designed to hold 5,000 concertgoers. There is no fixed seating; chairs will be set up for many events, while others might involve attendees bringing their own chairs and blankets.
Concrete walkways wind around the park's southern end, providing panoramic overlooks of the amphitheater space and of structures such as the impressive intake facility for the Waller Creek Tunnel in the park's southeastern corner.
Greenway representatives said Tuesday that they incorporated community feedback into the park’s design, such as altering original plans to build a brick-and-mortar restaurant in favor of creating an area for a rotating lineup of local food trucks.
A full schedule of events for the grand opening event will be posted at waterloogreenway.org. C3 Presents concerts are listed at moodyamphitheater.com. The news release noted that “as Waterloo Park and Moody Amphitheater open, Waterloo Greenway and its partners will follow state and local COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.”
American-Statesman reporter Michael Barnes contributed to this story.