Fiddler's Green gets needed upgrades

Concert attendees will notice improvements

Tom Munds
Concert attendees at Fiddler's Green this summer will sense improvements in the stage and sound systems immediately and will see ongoing improvements. Shown here are fans at the May 24 Charlie Daniels Band concert.

When Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre opened for the Charlie Daniels concert honoring veterans and first responders on May 24, there was still evidence to be seen of the $6 million renovation underway at the concert venue, owned by the Museum Outdoor Arts and leased to other concert promoters since 1988.

MOA, which operates an indoor gallery in Englewood, with educational programs and a large collection of outdoor art in several locations, was initially conceived by Cynthia Madden Leitner and her arts-oriented father John Madden, developer of the Denver Tech Center. It has had a special interest in large site-specific sculptural art and is collaborating with the Arvada Center on placement of a sculpture collection on its extensive grounds, to open this summer.

A space for smaller local concerts and events, Fiddler's Green, which opened in 1982 and is located in Greenwood Village (the venue has had several other names over the years), has grown to more than 17,000 seats and hosted big national acts such as Lollapalooza and Bob Dylan (who returns July 31) — and it was showing wear and tear.
Concert attendees this summer will sense improvements in the stage and sound systems immediately and will see ongoing improvement.

A new 15-year lease was recently signed between the MOA and a new operator, AEG Live, including longtime promoter Chuck Morris and general manager Rob Thomas (building manager for Fiddler's Green) who have publicized extensive renovation plans. According to material sent out by the MOA, work will continue through the year.

The entrance and curving walk up into the venue are redesigned for smoother traffic flow, with a new merchandise booth set back from the main walkway, so shoppers don't block the arriving concert fans.

Bathroom access is paved, facilities improved and concession booths are replaced. Madden Leitner said the back-of-house improvements are ongoing: a catering area and kitchen, and administrative spaces will replace structures that were “practically demolished.”

She is especially excited about the wall of living plants she proposed, which will be installed soon on the walls above all four portals and walls around the venue. It will include 35,000 live plants — “a panoramic living mural”, she called it — featuring plants known to do well in Colorado. They are growing in a nursery now. LED lights will be placed throughout and a sound wave pattern will be developed with lights and foliage color.

The designer is Paul Kephart of Rana Creek in Monterey, Calif., an ecological design and nursery firm. Each plant will be individually digitized so its needs for water will be monitored. A detention pond in adjacent Samson Park, also owned by MOA, will supply adequate water for the plants. This installation is a symbol of Madden Leitner's expressed wish to make the entire operation as green as possible.

A glance at the website shows numerous concerts scheduled through September, and more will no doubt be added. (AEG Live also operates the Gothic, Bluebird and Ogden theaters and 1stBank Center in Broomfield, as well as booking shows at Red Rocks and the Pepsi Center.)