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Walmart Amp expansion complete despite COVID-19 pandemic

The $17 million project was completed on schedule. Live music concerts are expected to return next year.

ROGERS, Ark. — The coronavirus pandemic may have put an end to live concerts and events at the Walmart Amp for now, but construction didn’t stop on the big changes inside the venue.

Early on founders and contributors to the Walmart Amp knew the goal was to one day expand and that’s exactly what they accomplished.

“It’s about patron comfort. We probably could have jammed more people in but we’re trying to take the existing amp and expand it just a little bit so that people can spread out and really enjoy the amenities we currently have," said Peter Lane, President and CEO of the Walton Arts Center.

The $17 million project added more bathrooms and concession stands. The main entrance has more box office windows to decrease wait time before a show.

One of the biggest new additions is the Choctaw Plaza. Which expands the capacity from 10,000 to 11,000. It also has an 80-foot bar.

“We really wanted to expand that partnership so we thought it was a great way when they came to us with this development to expand the entertainment experience and the community experience with the Choctaw Plaza," said Erica Kosemund, Senior Corporate Director of Marketing at Choctaw Casinos and Resorts.

The artist wing is much bigger and includes more dressing rooms and an expanded loading dock means bigger acts can unload on to the stage.

“The world of contemporary music is just extremely competitive," Lane said. "We’re in a small market but we get acts that you would see in places all over the country and that’s because of our facilities and the people who work here."

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the economy worldwide, but once concerts resume sponsors are hopeful the updates to the Walmart Amp will continue to draw people to Northwest Arkansas.

“Getting that back in creates new injections of cash into a destination, that’s new money that’s spent, that supports the folks that work in our restaurants or hotels, and retail areas," said J. R. Shaw, Executive Director for Visit Rogers.

When live music does return in either spring or early summer of 2021, guests and artists will both get to enjoy a new experience.

The Walmart Amp is number 46 on Pollstar’s 2019 top 100 best selling amphitheaters in the world.

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