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Vinik, Ruth Eckerd Hall seek to manage new Clearwater amphitheater

Veronica Brezina

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Imagine Clearwater rendering. Frontier Communications will install a public Wi-Fi and communications platform downtown that will connect to the project. Image: Stantec.

Groups with local ties in the community are vying to manage the new amphitheater that will be built in downtown Clearwater. 

The amphitheater is a key part of the city’s $84 million Imagine Clearwater development, which aims to transform Coachman Park on Drew Street into an urban waterfront park development for recreation and entertainment uses that would help attract residents and tourists to an underutilized part of downtown. 

The city has received submittals from several groups seeking to manage the 4,000-seat venue. Those pursuing the opportunity include Ruth Eckerd Hall, which operates the Clearwater-owned performing arts facility, the Capitol Theater and the Murray Theatre; OVG360, a division of Oak View Group that is partnering with Tampa-based Vinik Sports Group, which owns the Tampa Bay Lightning; and an entity called Just Imagine LLC. 

The managing group that will be selected by the city would be responsible for producing events, programming, staffing the venue and booking talent, as well as providing concessions, among other duties. The city will operate the rest of the waterfront park, according to city documents. 

The details of the finalists’ plans for the downtown venue are confidential and therefore were not disclosed. 

The selection committee the proposals will go before is made up of city manager Jon Jennings, finance director Jay Ravins, parks and recreation director James Halios and the park’s senior manager, Kristopher Koch. They are expected to review the proposals next week with more details to follow. 

 The Clearwater City Council is scheduled to vote on the committee’s recommendation in May. 

The entire 22-acre Imagine Clearwater development, including the amphitheater, is expected to be completed in summer 2023. 

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