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New amphitheater is closer to home

New York-based company funds venue for Portland audience

Want to catch a live performance by Grammy winner John Mayer? Head north on Interstate 5 and take a left at the dilapidated barn. Or do Jackson Browne, R.E.M. and James Taylor sound more appealing? Do the same. All are coming attractions at the recently completed Amphitheater at Clark County.

The sleek brick structure, roughly 9 miles north of the Interstate Bridge, stands in stark contrast to the stands at the adjacent Clark County Fairgrounds.

Tammi Bryant, marketing director for the amphitheater, says the addition of the sophisticated venue to the Portland-Vancouver area was past due.

'Q-Prime, an entertainment company based in New York, identified Portland and Salt Lake City as the only two places in the United States that didn't have an amphitheater of this magnitude,' she says.

Before the construction of the Amphitheater at Clark County, the closest large amphitheater was the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Wash., a five-hour drive from Portland. A 20,000-seat amphitheater is also scheduled to open this summer in Auburn, Wash.

The building process in Clark County was faster than a groupie chasing a tour bus; crews broke ground last August.

Q-Prime, which also has represented groups such as Hole and Metallica, funded the project, the final cost of which is estimated at more than $20 million.

Mayer, along with Counting Crows, breaks in the venue with a July 10 performance. Until then, painters, gardeners and paving crews are putting the finishing touches on the amphitheater and its surroundings.

The pristine lawn that sweeps across the back of the structure will seat an estimated 10,000 concertgoers who'll pay an average of $35 per ticket, while the reserved covered seats will accommodate almost 8,000 and are expected to cost anywhere from $40 to $68 per ticket.

Ninety wheelchair-accessible seats also are available in the reserved seating area.

Audiophiles will appreciate the acoustic tiles that line the covered seating area, as well as the sound enhancement speakers located throughout the amphitheater. Video screens intensify the visual experience for those who choose the grassy knoll experience.

And for those who want to be VIPs at R.E.M., concertgoers can arrange for private tents and concession areas.

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