HAMILTON, Ohio — With 15 to 20 concerts each year, many of them free, RiversEdge is becoming a popular attraction for the city of Hamilton.
"I think it's already proven to be a good investment," said Adam Helms, director of the city's Resident Services Department and promoter for the RiversEdge concert series. "With the Marcum Apartments across the street now and Marcum Park right behind us it's beautiful. The live music has really helped Hamilton grow."
But Helms said the venue's physical limitation is holding the city back from building on that momentum.
"We had a rain storm come through last week, and literally nothing on the stage was dry," he said. "It was all wet."
Hamilton has created a rough sketch of what a new roof for RiversEdge could look like. Helms said it would cost around $800,000 to build and an additional $500,000 to replace its existing sound system.
Both were possible improvements that Helms presented at a special city council meeting last week as officials look for ideas on spending $33 million in federal coronavirus relief money.
"We miss out on some great opportunities," Helms said. "It's hard for us to front the money for the talent or take the risks when the show may or may not happen."
Currently, if a paid show is rained out, the city is stuck paying the bill for the band and refunding tickets.
Helms said a larger roof and bigger stage would protect performers and their equipment. In turn, that would allow RiversEdge to attract big-name acts while avoiding weather issues.
"Hamilton is a great place for acts to come," said Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. "And we're getting more and more larger acts and bigger names, but we still have to, I think, probably court the larger acts."
Bates said bigger shows would mean more people in downtown Hamilton supporting local businesses and perhaps discovering something new.
"Definitely anytime you get people in the downtown area walking around, I think they discover things they had no idea were here and it makes them want to come back," he said.
The city is still gathering ideas and proposals for spending its portion of the federal coronavirus relief money before finalizing any specific projects.