Ford Park, amphitheater facelift under way |

Ford Park, amphitheater facelift under way

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Having a vision is only part of the equation. Bringing that vision to fruition requires not only having the resources, but sharing that vision with like-minded people and organizations to help move it forward.

The Vail community will be the beneficiary of just such a shared vision as the town of Vail and the Vail Valley Foundation have come together to form a strong public/private partnership through the renovation of Ford Park and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Begun on Sept. 24, Phase I of the Ford Amphitheater remodel is nearing the halfway point, with completion scheduled for June 15 of 2013.

“We are extremely fortunate to enjoy such a wonderful working relationship with the town of Vail,” said Harry Frampton, chairman of the Vail Valley Foundation’s board of directors. “The Town Council’s overall vision for Ford Park is truly exciting and we are pleased to be a part of that vision with our improvements to the Ford Amphitheater and the lower bench. The town most certainly understands how important Ford Park is to the economic health of Vail.”

Research indicates that 12-13 percent of Vail summer visitors attend a performing arts event/concert during their stay. In addition, 16 percent of summer visitors were found to have visited the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and 9 percent had visited the Ford Amphitheater. Assuming that the spending associated with these visits was proportional to their visitation, an aggregate of direct and indirect spending of $25.7 million can be associated with guests visiting Ford Park.

Central Park of Vail

Phase I Amphitheater projects included the construction of restrooms on the east side of the venue, along with the terracing of the general admission lawn seating area that surrounds the back of the pavilion seating area. A small terrace was also constructed to the west of the Borgen Family Plaza, overlooking the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Additionally, cosmetic changes to the Amphitheater include a new stucco color, additional stone facade and new counter tops for the concession areas.

“The Ford Amphitheater is truly one of Vail’s summertime gems for showcasing all forms of performing arts, especially Bravo! and the Dance Festival,” said Vail Mayor Andy Daly. “The town is absolutely delighted to be involved with the Vail Valley Foundation in this project, which represents an outstanding public and private partnership that we will reap the benefits of for many years to come.”

The amphitheater enhancement is part of the larger Ford Park renovation project that will also include improvements on both upper and lower benches of the park. Over the course of the next three years, both benches of Ford Park will undergo a dramatic facelift, currently dubbed Ford Gardens, involving not only the Vail Valley Foundation and the Ford Amphitheater, but also the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Vail Recreation District.

“The Vail Town Council recognizes that the Ford Amphitheater is one of the driving summer economic engines of Vail,” Frampton said. “The town is looking at the lower bench of Ford Park in the same way we look at Central Park in New York. The new amenities and experiences created by the Town of Vail’s vision will allow a guest to really visit the park and the gardens, rather than a single facility located on the lower bench.”

Ford tribute

One of the main features of the new park experience is expected to be the Ford ribute structure, intended to chronicle the numerous contributions of President and Mrs. Ford during their time in the Vail Valley. The yet-to-be-designed structure will serve as the central focus and gathering point in Ford Park, while also providing a permanent testament to the Fords and their impact.

“The Ford tribute structure is truly going to represent the heart of Ford Park,” said former Vail mayor Rod Slifer. “Not only will it serve as an enduring reminder of the Ford Family’s legacy in the Vail Valley, but it will also be a ‘must see’ component of the overall park experience. The structure will serve to draw guests into the center of the park, exposing all of the other enhancements to them along the way.”

In addition to the Ford Amphitheater segment of the Ford Gardens project, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens will see the construction of a new Education Center that will also serve as the organization’s offices.

The first phase of the Ford Amphitheater component of the overall project is partially funded by a portion of the former Town of Vail Conference Center Funds, the distribution of which Vail voters overwhelming approved in a special election last November. The Vail Valley Foundation is raising the remainder of the Phase I price tag through private funding.

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. To learn more about the Amphitheater or the Foundation, visit

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