MINOT, N.D. – Minot State University held a groundbreaking ceremony for the MSU Summer Theatre revitalization project in the future home of an expanded plaza on Thursday.

The ceremony kicked off a two-phase process to upgrade the amphitheater that was originally built in 1970.

“It’s going to be an exciting year as we look forward to the renovations at MSU Summer Theatre,” said Minot State President Steven Shirley. “This facility has served our region for 50 years, and with these renovations we look forward to it continuing on for the next 50 years. This project is about giving patrons a better experience with improved accessibility, viewing upgrades, and building enhancements that will improve the overall enjoyment of everyone who attends an event at Summer Theatre.”

Phase One, set to immediately begin with a May 15, 2021 final date, will focus on upgrades to accessibility, including integrating handicap seating in the lower, middle, and upper concourse, increased space for aisles and handrails, and a replacement of the upper level deck. Some seating from the lower section will be removed to accommodate the new aisles, but additional seats will be added to the upper section in order to keep seating at the current level. In fact, the amphitheater will add roughly 20 seats to bring the total capacity to just under 500.

“It is an exciting day to see this project move forward with Phase One,” said Rick Hedberg, Minot State vice president for advancement. “Summer Theatre plays an important role in the quality of life for so many people in and around Minot. The revitalization will modernize both the accessibility and the aesthetics of one of our most iconic venues at Minot State.

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"We know how incomplete our summers are without MSU Summer Theatre.”

After completion of Summer Theatre’s 55th season next summer, construction is anticipated to begin on Phase Two, a complete overhaul of the existing complex including bathrooms, ticket office, dressing rooms, and office space, along with a new plaza and drive-through, and lower-level concessions. Additional fundraising is needed to complete Phase Two.

Rolac Contracting of Minot was awarded the bid as general contractor for Phase One. Phase Two is expected to go to bid during this winter for an August 2021 start date. The entire $1.9 million project is expected to be completed by May 2022 in time for the 56th season.