Waterloo Park Is Set To Reopen Aug. 14. Here's What It Will Look Like.
After a decade behind locked gates and construction fencing, Waterloo Park will reopen Aug. 14, according to the Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, the nonprofit that operates the public space just east of the state Capitol.
Those who remember the park in its previous incarnation as a funky, neglected-feeling 11 acres along Waller Creek will notice a lot of changes. Among them: a playground, an elevated “sky walk” that snakes through the grounds, a food truck area, and a garden featuring stone trails and native Hill Country plants.
The biggest difference will be the Moody Amphitheater, a 5,000-capacity performance space comprising about one-third of the park.
The amphitheater space includes a stage facing the park’s only large open lawn. It is situated near the northwest corner and will host private ticketed events, as well as public performances.
“For certain events we have approximately 2,900 chairs that we could bring out and seat on the lower lawn, and those will be numbered and often sold with tickets,” John Rigdon, the Waterloo Greenway Conservancy’s director of planning and design, said at a media tour of the grounds.
“We have other events where it may be all general admission or there may be no ticketing, where people can bring in their own chairs or blankets,” he said.
The Waterloo Greenway Conservancy plans to host 35 ticketed events during its first year, in partnership with concert organizers Live Nation and C3 Presents. Other shows, done in collaboration with other organizers, may also require tickets. At each ticketed event, 100 tickets will be given away in a public lottery.
When the Moody Amphitheater is closed to the public, park managers say the rest of the park will remain open.
“There’s kind of a natural barrier around the lawn,” Rigdon said.
There will also be free public events, including a “community day” festival and ribbon-cutting on Aug. 14, a September concert series in the park’s smaller 200-seat “Lebermann Plaza,” and a Day of the Dead Festival in October.
Before the park closed in 2011, it was a popular space for concerts and events like the Fun Fun Fun fest, the Austin Hot Sauce festival and the storied “Spamarama.”
Lisa Storer, a project manager with Austin's Parks and Recreation Department, said she attended some of those earlier shows.
“There was always a lot of damage on the park itself, so having this purpose-built performance venue ... is gonna be a beautiful thing,” she said.
The park was initially closed to allow the city to build a flood-control intake building and tunnel underneath Waller Creek, to open up more downtown land for development.
At the time, the redesign of Waterloo Park and the Waller Creek Greenbelt (now called the Waterloo Greenway) was pitched as a public benefit arising from that $164 million flood-control project.
Over the years the park has missed several deadlines for reopening, but the confidence of city officials and park managers — and the rapidly filling concert schedule on the Waterloo Conservancy’s website — suggest this time will be different.
“We are so excited for this landmark iconic day,” Waterloo Greenway interim CEO Kathy Miller said.