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Storied San Antonio concert venue Sunken Garden Theater poised for $62 million makeover 

click to enlarge An artist's rendering of a concert being staged at the renovated Sunken Garden Theater, which will include a timber-frame roof. - COURTESY IMAGE / OJT ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy Image / OJT Architects
  • An artist's rendering of a concert being staged at the renovated Sunken Garden Theater, which will include a timber-frame roof.
Sunken Garden Theater, the storied outdoor venue that helped define San Antonio as the "Heavy Metal Capital of the World," is about to get a $62 million facelift.

Brackenridge Park Conservancy, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County are partnering on renovations to the deteriorating site, built in 1930. Those upgrades will include a timber-frame roof, fixed stadium seating, a grass berm for additional spectators, additional bathrooms and a restoration of the site's historic waterfall features.



The reconfigured venue would be able to seat up to 7,000 people. The construction schedule depends on how quickly funding comes together.

click to enlarge Proposed upgrades to the outdoor venue include a new entrance, pictured in this rendering. - COURTESY IMAGE / OJT ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy Image / OJT Architects
  • Proposed upgrades to the outdoor venue include a new entrance, pictured in this rendering.
“The Brackenridge Park Conservancy believes the time is right for the reactivation of the historic amphitheater,” Brackenridge Park Conservancy Board Chairman Joe Calvert said in a statement. “The community has the opportunity to preserve the classical theater nestled into the old quarry before it deteriorates further and create a venue for all of us to enjoy — from community events to concerts and more.”

Located in Brackenridge Park, Sunken Garden was developed as a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression. From the '70s through the mid-'90s, it played host to touring musical acts ranging from Judas Priest and Metallica to Bob Dylan and Cheap Trick.

While the theater still holds events, the number has dwindled over recent years.

click to enlarge This rendering shows lawn seating at the retooled Sunken Garden. - COURTESY IMAGE / OJT ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy Image / OJT Architects
  • This rendering shows lawn seating at the retooled Sunken Garden.
The upgrades to the site will be financed by a combination of public and private sources, philanthropic funds, tax credit equity and venue operations, according to Brackenridge Park Conservancy officials.

The renovation would create roughly 171 full-time positions as the facility returns to regularly hosting music and other types of entertainment, according to the group. It would also create construction jobs during the renovation.

The partners in the Sunken Garden restoration plan to schedule public meetings to discuss the venue's future.

click to enlarge After the renovations, Sunken Garden would be able to accommodate up to 7,000 audience members. - COURTESY IMAGE / OJT ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy Image / OJT Architects
  • After the renovations, Sunken Garden would be able to accommodate up to 7,000 audience members.
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