When RiverEdge Park in downtown Aurora starts holding events next summer, the team behind the scenes will be the same one that manages the Paramount Theatre.
The Aurora Civic Center Authority will run the park's Music Garden and plan its programming under an 18-month agreement the city council approved Tuesday night.
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The agreement gives the Civic Center Authority responsibility for planning five festivals, three concerts, three to six community events, a grand opening and other events at the park during its first seasons. The city will lend its support with a $250,000 annual payment for programming and up to $347,000 in reimbursements for park maintenance.
"We are confident this agreement will make the RiverEdge Music Garden a source of community pride," Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner said. "This world-class facility situated along the Fox River will serve as an economic catalyst for the future growth of downtown Aurora for years to come."
The $13.2 million park, funded by grants from the state, the Fox Valley Park District, the Dunham Fund and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, will include a performance pavilion with a capacity of about 9,500. Musical performances have been hyped as one of the park's main features.
"We're going to continue to work with the agents we've worked with in the past to find the best options to put in this new outdoor amphitheater," Tim Rater, executive director of the Paramount Theatre, said. "We will be able to have some acts we could not afford on the Paramount stage."
The Charlie Daniels Band, the Georgia Satellites, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Buddy Guy are among artists the Paramount brought to Aurora for music festivals the past two summers. More musical variety, including rock, pop, country, jazz and classical acts, can be expected when RiverEdge Park opens, and Rater said Blues on the Fox, scheduled for June 14 and 15, will be next year's premiere event.
"We know we've got to have some big names for next summer to make sure we open with a bit of a flash," he said.
The Civic Center Authority was chosen to manage programming at the park after a consultant the city hired in December suggested the organization has the expertise, staff and contacts necessary to run RiverEdge events.
Open Road Events of Milwaukee, which the city paid $35,000, also suggested the city could create a new nonprofit to manage RiverEdge concerts and festivals in the future. But Rater said he expects the current management setup to become a positive and long-standing partnership.
Construction of the east side of RiverEdge Park is scheduled to be complete in October, before a Feb. 28, 2013, deadline attached to the state grant. The park has been in the planning stages since at least September 2007.