Plans underway for major open-air stage rebuild

People from the Culture Ministry and the Rīga City Council on Friday signed an agreement about the building project of the iconic Mežaparks open-air stage, to be reconstructed by 2021. This kicks off what will be the largest culture project in Rīga since the restoration of independence, reported LSM. 

The Mežaparks stage is one of the main open-air venues in Latvia, with major concerts of artists like Lady Gaga held there and nationally significant events like the Song and Dance Festival sending tens of thousands of participants and viewers to the stage in the green and affluent Mežaparks neighborhood not far from the Rīga Zoo. 

The building project agreement was signed with the Juris Poga and Austris Mailītis architecture firms, the draft designs of which were picked in an international 2007 project.

"The reconstruction project of the Mežaparks Great open-air stage is the most noticeable one to be carried out in Rīga in the realm of culture since 1991," said Riga mayor Nils Ušakovs.

Oļegs Burovs, a representative of the council, said that the number of seats will be brought to 30,000 up from the current 22,000, with the maximum capacity of the stage brought to 70,000 - up from 45,000. 

The project is to be finished in January 2017, with construction is expected to start in May next year.

The first reconstruction stage is to be concluded in 2018, in time for the next Song and Dance festival. It will introduce larger platforms for the viewers, increasing the number of seats. The second stage of the project will be expanding the dome-shaped roof.

The project costs have not been estimated precisely yet, however the Rīga City Council can take out an interest-free State Treasury loan of up to €45m for the project.

The upgraded capacity could serve to prevent debacles like that of last year's Youth Song and Dance festival when dozens of young people fainted on stage, perhaps due to overcrowding as there had been twice as many on stage than safety experts advised. 

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