LAYTON — Sixty additional seats are replacing weather-worn landscape rock that had begun to erode at the Ed Kenley Centennial Amphitheater.
The change, which adds stage-left chair seating, brings the total capacity of the outdoor Layton theater to a comfortable 1,850 people, or in “more than a squeeze,” about 2,000, should the need arise, officials said.
The renovation, to be complete in time for the theater’s first production May 15, is the latest tweak to the 17-year-old facility that is experiencing increased demand and crowds.
“It has evolved and will continue to evolve,” Layton recreation supervisor Dave Thomas said of the theater at 437 N. Wasatch Drive.
Because some of the large landscape rocks in the theater were beginning to split and crack from erosion, and were “just a big trip hazard,” posing a risk to patrons who have been known to sit on the rocks, city crews redesigned the north side of the theater.
Most of the redesign work involved removing the rocks and replacing them with a six-level pad of concrete where additional seats can be placed, Thomas said.
It has yet to be determined whether, in the long term, the terraced pad will be used for temporary chair seating, permanent chair seating or to provide a midline price between reserved and general admission seating, said Davis Arts Council Executive Director Kirt Bateman.
But for the 2012 season, he said, the terraced pad will be treated as general admission seating.
The theater currently has 542 permanent seats, Thomas said, while a large grass berm is available for general admission.
Either way, officials are confident the seats will be in high demand, because they are so close to the stage.
In addition to the section of terraced concrete, city crews are in the process of leveling the theater grounds stage-left and adding new grass and a flower garden.
Bateman said he is just glad the rocks are gone, because they posed such a risk to patrons.
“It is a much safer area.”
Because the project has been done in-house by city park and recreation crews, it has cost Layton about $5,000 to make the changes to the theater, said Layton Parks and Recreation Director Dave Price.
The cost to do the work would have been much more had the city needed to contract out for the work, he said.
The changes to the theater are also an effort to keep pace with its increasing amount of use by area organizations.
Each year, from May 15 to Sept. 15, the theater is used 90 to 100 nights, Thomas said.
“You can’t get much busier,” he said.
The effort by the Davis Arts Council to book bigger acts during its annual summer concert series has also placed additional demands on the theater, Price said.
“We’re drawing larger crowds,” he said, noting as one example the Kenny Loggins concert held at the theater in September.
Davis Arts Council Board of Trustees Chairwoman Dawn Brandvold said she’ll miss the rocks but recognizes they were a bit of a hazard — especially for children.
“It will open up more seating,” she said, adding that the changes also will make it easier for patrons to enter and exit the theater, without changing the beauty or intimacy of the venue.