Work crews at The Downs at Santa Fe will raise the roof Tuesday on a new summer stage that a local music producer hopes will attract musical groups to the city.
Quickbeam Systems Inc., an event-production firm in Albuquerque that provides staging infrastructure, is working with Santa Fe’s Heath Concerts to erect the 35-foot-high roof in anticipation of the first summer event at the site: Michael Franti and Spearhead’s Soulshine Festival on July 5.
The pitched aluminum roof is 46 feet by 43 feet, while the platform below is 60 feet by 40 feet.
The concert stage is located on the infield of The Downs racetrack, to the east of the grandstand and clubhouse. Concertgoers will sit on the grassy infield and are welcome to bring their own folding chairs and blankets.
While the venue conceivably could host 20,000 patrons, Heath Concerts Director Jamie Lenfestey said he is aiming for a more modest crowd size of up to 3,000 for the concerts planned at The Downs this summer.
Lenfestey, who booked music events at the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater on the Santa Fe Indian School campus, said he wants to “create a place that we lost when Paolo closed down” in 2010. That theater, which opened in 1970, held about 2,900 people, he said.
“We want to bring outdoor music back to Santa Fe,” Lenfestey said.
Last July, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell played at The Downs on what Lenfestey called a mobile trailer stage. The new stage roof can be rigged with whatever sound and lighting equipment performers need. Quickbeam Systems personnel will dismantle the stage in late September, after the last seasonal concert, Lenfestey said.
Kurt Jaeckel of Quickbeam said the new roofed stage will save at least $25,000 in setup and breakdown costs.
The Downs opened in the early 1970s as a racetrack. Pojoaque Pueblo purchased the property in the mid-1990s but closed it after a few years, citing the loss of millions of dollars.
A call to the pueblo seeking comment was not returned.
Heath Concerts, which presents events at venues around Santa Fe, has booked Ray Lamontagne on Aug. 5 and Lyle Lovett on Sept. 13 at The Downs.
Parking is free, and food and beverage vendors, as well as portable toilets, will be on site for the concerts, Lenfestey said.
Trader Walt’s flea market also operates at The Downs on weekends from May through mid-October.
Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.