What do Dave Matthews Band, Bob Dylan and Yo-Yo Ma have in common? They’re all playing gigs at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) this summer. If you’ve already nabbed lawn or amphitheater tickets to these great shows, you know that you’ve paid not only for the sensational music, but also the top-flight experience. In other words, the ability to enjoy world-class music in the verdant, wooded environs of Saratoga Spa State Park.
Fortunately, that experience will only be getting better this summer, with the completion of two multimillion-dollar projects on SPAC’s grounds.
To jog your memory, last October, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an impressive $9.5 million renovation project for the performing arts center’s concessions and restroom facilities (SPAC and Live Nation will provide $8 million of that). As if that weren’t enough, two months later, Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awarded SPAC an additional $2 million in funding for a completely different project: transforming the Roosevelt II Bathhouse, a previously vacant space on the edge of SPAC’s property, into a multi-use space and venue. (The project’s total budget is $7 million.) “It will be a complete transformation of the SPAC experience outside of the amphitheater,” says SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol. “The facilities will be ample and brand new—and, at the same time, we’re restoring the park-like feel and the original sightlines from the Route 50 gate over to the Victoria Pool. There’ll be much more spaciousness, along with significantly increased and improved amenities.”
The most noticeable change for summer patrons and Live Nation concertgoers will be the new state-of-the-art concessions and restrooms facility. What had previously been several tent-like structures, providing drinks and light fare to customers, will now be replaced by a versatile, two-story building, complete with new bathrooms and concessions bays and a completely reimagined gathering space, covered by a large pavilion, right at the heart of SPAC. “With this new project, we address major issues of security and safety, aesthetics and functionality,” says Sobol. The new structure will also boast a rooftop terrace from which guests can view concerts, and perhaps most importantly, it will house the venue’s first-ever, year-round educational programming and community activity space, which Sobol calls “game-changing.”
The Roosevelt II Bathhouse will also be open throughout the year, and its addition will elevate SPAC’s all-season cultural offerings. Once completed, the space will feature an art gallery; a black box theater; a teaching kitchen; and a soon-to-be-opened learning, wellness and leadership center called COESA, which will be teaming up with SPAC to offer special programming (last fall, the two partnered on a project featuring Vedic meditation and Ayurvedic cooking). “So, theatrical arts, visual arts, culinary arts—to complement healing arts provided by COESA—and, of course, SPAC’s on-going commitment to dance and musical arts, will all be under one roof,” says Sobol.