07/15/2015

Five things to know about Riverfront Park

Five things to know about Riverfront Park

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E.J. Boyer Staff Reporter Nashville Business Journal

The Riverfront Room features floor to ceiling windows and faces the adjacent Riverfront… more

Riverfront Park and Ascend Amphitheater will open to the public in just over two weeks, with back-to-back Eric Church shows scheduled for July 30 and 31.

During breaks in Tuesday's rain showers, local media got an early look at what Mayor Karl Dean's administration is calling Nashville's "front porch." A photo tour of the park is attached, and here's what I learned:

The "front porch" theme got literal — large-scale porch swings dot the perimeter of the park's grassy lawn and greenway path, providing vantage and relaxing points. On Tuesday's tour, Dean stressed that Riverfront Park is a "park first," highlighting elements like the swings, two half-court basketball hoops, ping-pong tables, a fitness area and a dog park, all of which will be open to the public.

There are more than 17,000 shrubs, flowers and trees planted throughout the park. The Betty Brown Tree Trail, a partnership between Metro Parks and the Nashville Tree Foundation, will include 225 individual trees, representing 43 different species. The quantity and diversity of the plant life will gain the park Level 1 arboretum status.

You may recall that a 45-foot tall, wavy sculpture was being commissioned for Riverfront Park. Perhaps you've even seen it now, as it's recently installed. As a refresher — and to impress your friends when they ask — the sculpture's shape mimics the flow of the Cumberland River through Davidson County. The bottom portion is covered in hardwood, to encourage people to sit, touch and interact with the art.

The Ascend Amphitheater is impressive, both in size and looks. Twenty-seven shows are booked for this inaugural season. The stage alone is 100 feet wide by 55 feet deep, and a custom electronic bandshell allows the stage to remain open, with views of downtown behind it. The amphitheater has 60 microphones embedded in the roof overhang, taking care of the acoustics. The amphitheater includes a 5,000-square-foot artist wing, a 3,400-square-foot area for the kitchen and crew and a 2,500-square-foot meet-and-greet room facing the lawn that can be rented for private events.

If you are checking out the amphitheater's opening night, be forewarned about traffic. One person pointed out that July 31 will see the Eric Church show, Dolly Parton at the Ryman and Shania Twain at Bridgestone Arena, to which Dean pointed to the free parking lots just across the pedestrian bridge.

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