After plans to update SPAC’s deteriorating amphitheatre façade fell through in 2008, it seemed SPAC would be stuck with its current design long into the foreseeable future.
“In 2008, it was the same story for a lot of businesses, a lot of not-for-profits and a lot of individuals,” said Marcia J. White, president and executive director of SPAC. “When the bottom seemed to drop out of the economy…the state was not in a position to fund this capital investment, so that kind of put everything on hold.”
With New York State continuing to face similar economic challenges in 2012, it’s now thanks to the Dake family that SPAC will have a brand-new look to boast about come the start of their summer season.
“We couldn’t be more inspired and extremely grateful for the generosity of Bill and Susan Dake’s contribution to SPAC. Many people will be enjoying [the renovations] for many years to come,” said White.
The Dakes are contributing over $500,000 in personal funds to see the project through and have contracted with Bonacio Construction to update the façade. The current structure, which was designed 47 years ago, suffers from heavy deterioration, warping and rotting wood.
“It really is in tougher shape than many people realize,” said Bill Dake, outgoing board chairman and part-owner of Stewart’s Shops convenience stores. Dake, whose family has also been involved with SPAC for many years, hopes the new renovation will reinforce the “tremendously strong image that SPAC builds for the Capital District.”
The new look will feature a contemporary redesign of the existing shield motif seen along the amphitheatre, using wood veneer panels of Parklex (high-density, weather-resistant material) to add depth and warmth while preserving the center’s acoustics. A series of brown, durable and weather-resistant fiber cement board will also be used to replace surfaces on the amphitheatre’s roof dormers and sides.
“In addition, we’ll have upgraded speakers that are positioned on the outside of the shields as well, the way they have been in the past,” said White. “But this is a great opportunity for us to put in some new speakers that will enhance the sound on the lawn.”
The façade facelift is a farewell gift of sorts from the Dakes, as Bill plans to step down from his position on the board in May after serving since 2005.
“Bill Dake has had an incredible vision. He’s had amazing, strong leadership and guided SPAC through nearly eight years of very good returns,” said White. “This [donation] is a very typical way that the Dake family expresses their support of this community without being asked. They see a need, they evaluate it and they just move forward.”
Beginning this month, SPAC expects to remove the current wooden shields along with the board and batten on the amphitheatre’s sides while the steel frame is readied for the Parklex siding. By early spring the three-dimensional shields on the façade and cement boards along the sides will be installed, and new speakers will be integrated for the finishing touch.
Construction is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2012 season, opening with New York City Ballet’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” followed later in the season by the Dave Matthews Band and the Beach Boys.
“SPAC is an outstanding partner for programing in Saratoga Spa State Park, where we welcome over 1.7 million visitors each year,” said Rose Harvey, New York State parks commissioner. “We are thrilled to support this new façade project, a terrific example of leveraging state funding with private investments to sustain a magnificent facility.”
“This is a dream come true,” added White. “Bill’s vision for this era of SPAC has become really a vision for all of us, and now he’ll make the façade a reality.”
To learn more about SPAC’s summer season, visit www.SPAC.org.