SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A major improvement to the sloping lawn at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center would cost as much $1 million and require the venue to close for an entire summer season, SPAC President Elizabeth Sobol stated.
In a statement provided last week to The Daily Gazette in response to questions about the condition of the venue’s lawn, Sobol said “one of the world’s foremost turf experts” had advised SPAC officials that “the only true major improvement” of the venue’s lawn would cost up to $1 million. The venue, which hosts high school graduations, concerts, the ballet and other events throughout the summer, would also have to be closed for a summer season to pursue the lawn fix.
“Aside from the cost of the lawn work, the economic impact both on SPAC and on the business community would be immeasurable,” Sobol said in the statement.
Maintaining the grass on the sloping lawn is a major challenge as thousands of visitors come in and out of the venue for everything ranging from classical orchestra shows to rock concerts. Public angst over the state of the lawn has become an annual rite as brown dirt starts to dominate green grass at SPAC in late summer.
One SPAC visitor last week posted a picture of a couple in front of them that set up their table and chairs on a chunk of synthetic turf they apparently brought for the show. “When the lawn is gone at SPAC, the only thing left to do is bring your own lawn,” the concertgoer wrote on Facebook.
SPAC officials in recent years have invested in upgrades to the lawn and they continue to invest heavily in regular maintenance and upkeep throughout the summer season. Their upkeep protocol is the best available, Sobol said in her statement.
In 2015, SPAC replaced the entire lawn with 75,000 square feet of sod after reseeding efforts failed to restore a lush green lawn. This year SPAC made improvements to its drainage system as part of broader upgrades that included new amphitheater ramps to the second-level seats.
But the drainage fixes have not been enough to keep the dirt at bay.
“I am as heartbroken as anyone to see the denuded lawn during these beautiful performances,” Sobol said in the Friday statement. “But I keep my focus on all the phenomenal music, dance, education and community gathering that takes place here in the midst of the beauty of the park, and I hope others will do the same.”