Published  May 8, 2018
May 8, 2018

Baltimore Business Journal

By: Carley Milligan


When the roof of Merriweather Post Pavilion collapsed in January, it gave Brad Canfield's team just 111 days to rebuild the roof.

"We were opening on May 4, so everybody was committed," the vice president of operations at the Columbia concert venue said. "It seemed like an impossible task, but we did it."

The collapse occurred while work was being done on the roof — just one part of a five-phase, five-year renovation to the 51-year-old venue. Canfield said Merriweather recently completed the fourth phase of the redo, just in time for the start of summer concert season, which kicked off with the M3 Rock Festival last weekend.

In addition to the rebuilt and raised roof are other upgrades to the venue such as new roofing over the side section seats and all new pavilion seating. While the seats will look largely the same as the old ones, Canfield said, the configuration of them will be new. The fourth phase of the renovation also included concert production enhancements, such as a bigger and better spotlight booth, new fiber optic technology to replace cables and more.

Merriweather already has new box offices, concession stands and restrooms as part of earlier phases of renovations. The stage has also been expanded, and 15,000 square feet of dressing rooms and backstage amenities have been added. The backstage area even includes a new pool for artists to use before and after performing.

Canfield said attentive concertgoers will certainly hear an improvement in the quality of sound at the venue, adding that some attendees at last weekend's M3 festival said they noticed the change.

"It's definitely changed," Canfield said of the venues renovations. "If you haven't been in a few years come and check it out."

In total, the five-phase renovation is expected to cost more than $50 million. Canfield declined to share the specific price of this most recent phase of work.

A building permit filed with Howard County shows a $3 million commercial alteration for Costello Construction to "renovate/replace roof structure and lighting booth." Costello Construction is the general contractor on the project, Canfield confirmed.

The Design Collective Inc. and Tarantino Engineering Consultants are also working on the renovations.

Phase five of the renovation will include another set of restrooms and a concession stand. But beyond that, Canfield said people will have to wait to see what else will be announced as part of the final phase. He hopes the last phase will be complete by early May 2019, but depending on some factors it could take longer.

The changes to Columbia's favorite outdoor concert venue come as the downtown district is undergoing a $1 billion, 30-year urbanization by Dallas-based developer Howard Hughes. A 12-story tower at Little Patuxent and Broken Land parkways broke ground at the end of April, marking the third major office building in the 391-acre overhaul.


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