Marvin Walder/The Broadside
The Les Schwab Amphitheater is a local attraction that’s hosted countless events and concerts, and has served over a million guests since it’s construction in 2001. Interestingly, the venue was named in honor of Leslie Schwab, a local man who also started the successful tire company named Les Schwab.
What those that haven’t visited the Old Mill in a while might not know is that the amphitheater that stood there this summer has been torn down to make way for a bigger and better stage. Currently, nothing remains of the art clad structure that was iconic for the Old Mill, and a favorite hangout spot for local skaters.
There are two planned phases to the ongoing construction.
The first phase involves rebuilding the central stage, and is projected to finish sometime in June. The new stage will retain a similar minimalistic styling, while increasing the stage area by 1840 square feet and reaching a height of 62 feet.
The second phase is expected to commence in the fall, where there will be additions for visitors like permanent bathrooms, seating and other expansions.
Details about the phases and projected completion dates can be found here.
One of the main reasons for the re-construction of the amphitheater is to provide a more developed venue to attract a wider variety of artists and events, and have better accessibility and amenities for visitors. This could be largely beneficial for the Old Mill, and Bend as a whole, because it was estimated in 2015 that each concert brings about $1.2 million dollars into the Bend economy. This expansion could further contribute to Bend’s continuing success as a tourist destination.
With the sudden snowfall that Bend Oregon has seen in the past few days, it’s unclear if construction will finish by June. As the construction site seems relatively dormant under the freshly fallen snow.
If all goes well, construction will be completed by the projected dates, and Bend will be ready for bigger and better concerts by the summer time. This, in combination with the continued rollouts for the COVID-19 vaccine, could prepare this summer to have some well deserved excitement for Central Oregon.