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story.lead_photo.caption Liv Paggiarino/News Tribune JC Parks Commission President Chris Lueckel, center, officially cuts the ribbon for the Capital Region MU Health Care Amphitheater on Friday at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park.

Two medical facilities will share top billing at the new Riverside Amphitheater in Riverside Park.

On Friday morning, officials announced the name of the facility will be the Capital Region/MU Health Care Amphitheater.

Parks Director Todd Spalding said naming rights sold for $75,000 a year for the next five years. He said the estimated cost to operate the amphitheater is $60,000 a year.

Signage with the name is being planned, but there is not a time frame for when it will go up.

"Part of our mission is to improve the quality of life of a community, including the health and wellness of the communities we serve, so having a safe space to have fun we feel is part of that," said Janet Weckenborg, Capital Region vice president of operations. "This venue couldn't be better for encouraging a sense of belonging and togetherness. The Jefferson City Parks System has so many opportunities to bring together the young and the old and bring in people from out of town to learn what a wonderful place Jefferson City is."

"When you think about all the fun and joy that will happen here it's going to be incredible," said Jonathan Curtright, MU Health Care chief executive officer. "Jefferson City gets what it means to be a community more than any other place I've worked in."

City officials and members of the Jefferson City Parks Board and staff all said they were anxious for the first show at the venue, which is tonight with Clay Walker and Tracy Lawrence performing.

Lynn Cannon is executive director of VenuWorks, the Iowa-based company who will manage the amphitheater. She said they sold all the tickets for tonight's show. The amphitheater, which was built for a cost of $2.9 million, has a capacity for more than 2,500. That breaks down to 500 permanent seats and room for 2,000 visitors in the open lawn area.

"We've hired over 75 employees for our staff here, and we're excited to get this venue up and running," Cannon said.

Today's concert will take place rain or shine. Staff tested the sound and lighting last week.

Attendees should enter the park on Grant Street and staff will direct parking.

This week's rain may restrict some parking areas since plans included some lawn parking.

If that occurs, staff will fill the lower parking lots first and move up the hill. If those fill up, the city has also received permission to use some of the state lots down the street on Riverside Drive.

"This couldn't have come at a better time after we've been cooped up for a year (during the COVID pandemic)," Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said. "This is also a celebration to show how far we've come in the past two years since the tornado hit our town.

"This is an example of a project that never got side tracked by a pandemic or tornado," she said. "We're here now and opening up."

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