ARTS & CULTURE
Walmart AMP Hits All the Right Notes
An inside look at the newly expanded venue
By Jennifer Wilson
Photos courtesy of Walton Arts Center
The Walmart AMP launched its 20|20 expansion project after the final concert of last season. The goal was to improve experiences for both patrons and artists by creating flexible viewing areas and gathering spaces, increasing the number of restrooms and concession windows, and improving the artist’s experience by expanding the artist wing and backstage loading dock.
The project was completed in seven months during the venue’s off-season – just in time for what would have been the 2020 concert season.
“When we planned this expansion, we had no idea the challenges we would face in 2020. But we knew what was needed in order to keep the Walmart AMP competitive in the touring industry and relevant to our patrons,” says Peter Lane, president and CEO of Walton Arts Center. The Walmart AMP is a Walton Arts Center venue.
As smaller events and shows begin happening this fall, patrons can start to enjoy some of the venue’s new amenities.
New patron experience
The most noticeable change for patrons is an expanded space at the top of the lawn that includes a new Choctaw Plaza – named for Choctaw Casinos & Resorts, which helped provide funding for the Walmart AMP 20|20 expansion. The 12,300-square-foot covered plaza is home to an impressive 80-foot bar and flexible seating area for concert viewing and event rentals.
Uncovered areas on both sides of the Choctaw Plaza provide additional restrooms, Tyson concession stands and gathering spaces for guests.
The newly expanded Kraft Heinz Entrance, the venue’s main entrance, welcomes guests with additional gates and shaded space. Between the entrance and main gate, the venue can now operate up to 12 gates at once – thereby increasing traffic flow for patrons entering and exiting the venue.
The expanded entry plaza, now double its original size at 19,500 square feet, includes additional restrooms and a new Tyson concession stand. Overall, the venue added more than 90 new restroom stalls. So patrons can expect to spend less time waiting in line and more time enjoying the show!
The Procter & Gamble Box Office has expanded from four service windows to seven, and the previous box office, now located inside the venue on the main entry plaza, will serve as an internal box office for seating upgrades or purchasing special offers for upcoming shows.
New artist experience
Backstage, four luxury dressing rooms with private bathrooms bring the venue’s total dressing room count to eight. A new artist green room, shower room for tour crew members and laundry facility were all added to better accommodate tour needs and provide a comfortable space for artists, who are usually on the road for long stretches of time.
Typically, when a tour travels to the venue, they arrive before the sun comes up and stay long after it has gone down. The entire tour — consisting of artists, lighting designers, sound engineers, tour managers and many more — can easily spend a full day at the venue preparing, rehearsing and eating three meals on-site. A newly updated catering kitchen can now serve the expanded dining room that seats 80, double the original capacity.
The backstage loading dock has been expanded to accommodate six trucks, instead of four, allowing a faster load in and out for tours.
“The live touring business is very competitive, and these changes could mean the opportunity for more big-name artists and a concert experience that is unrivaled in our region,” says Lane.
Visit www.amptickets.com for a list of upcoming events at the Walmart AMP.