Introducing the Bud Light Amphitheater, the Next Greenspace To Grace Buffalo Bayou

Thanks to $2 million from Silver Eagle Distributors, which is also putting up that new beer dispensary in Pasadena, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership might to be able to afford to turn Eleanor Tinsley Park into something as purty as what you see in the rendering above. That means the existing “event meadow” down below there along Allen Pkwy. will be scooped out and rid of the volleyball court, playground equipment, picnic shelters, and some of the pine trees, then re-landscaped and rechristened the Bud Light Amphitheater; more parking and stairs will be introduced; and a new “Skyline Overlook” pavilion will be built and named in honor of Silver Eagle prez and CEO John Nau.

The dirty work began earlier this month, says the BBP, part of the overall project to install new swag like pedestrian bridges and remove invasive species, transforming the 2.3-mile stretch, BBP prez Anne Olson explained a few months ago to Free Press Houston, into an “11 acre urban prairie.”

Rendering: SWA Group

42 Comment

  • I often go running at this park after work, the continuing transformation has been amazing.

  • How does this affect FPSF?

  • it will be very nice when all of this is complete, but all of the construction blows for everyday runners on the course (which has already taken years, which seems excessive for a running trail and park). One runner friend noted that this project is like construction in Mexico — they work hard on areas when they are flush with money, then leave the site for many months with exposed rebar, etc. when they run out and are out securing more money.

  • @htownproud: Such is the environment of municipal civil works. Despite all the “stimuli” there still isn’t any money.

  • Exactly –there will be no park when finished, the entire thing will be developed, they really should stop calling it a park–I’ll admit some of the structures are really cool, but do they have to develop every inch–I’m not sure about this Amphitheater, don’t we have one at Hermann and at The Woodlands–it might be cool, I’ll reserve judgement –but yeah, let’s finish this project already

  • I am so happy they are turning the bayou into an asset for all of us. As the city gets more and dense, this park/bayou will play an even more important role in the lives of us city dwellers.

    Now, if they would put Allen Parkway Village on the market for $100 million, they could relocate and help even more people that need it AND improve the gateway to Houston with restuarant, apartments, hotels etc.

  • This is a great development though. Always wondered why there wasn’t a permanent facility there given the popularity of FPSF, etc. Kudos to Silver Eagle.

  • @Shannon, I agree with you here. I love what they are doing with the area, but it’s almost overkill. It’s the same way I feel about Upper Kirby and Uptown TIRZ areas–I would rather see other areas *also* improved rather than spending everything in one small area.

  • “more parking and stairs will be introduced;”

    Isn’t it a bit naive to think that expanding parking could facilitate the parking needed for an event the size that is depicted in the rendering?

  • That is an awful name! Tacky and ecocative of rowdy behavior. Silver Eagle I can take.

  • Let me get this right… we are removing public amenities such as a the sand volleyball court and kids playground in lieu of a “Corporate Gifted” amphitheatre! WTH Houston.

    As a resident of this area since before it was “hip”; circa 1998′, it is important to keep these types of amenities. It would be nice to continue to walk your kids down here to play, or enjoy a bar-b-que and v-ball match like we used to. More and more families are moving into the area. We need more recreational facilities, not less… Look at the splash playground at Discovery Green or and Spark Park in loop…

    Come on H-town, get it together. Sheesh!

  • There will still be more recreational amenities. However, this area is not moving towards more family oriented.

  • Playgrounds can be installed in neighborhood parks if family-friendly is what you want. Amphitheaters require quite a bit more space, though, so it makes sense when they are programmed into parks that serve a regional audience. If Houston needs another outdoor performance venue(?), then this is certainly a good location for it.

  • On the radio the other day they mentioned removing a grove of pine trees near E. Tinsley Park in order to enhance views of downtown. Since when is it the mission of the bayou conservancy to enhance views of buildings at the expense of established trees?
    I would be much more supportive of this project had they left most of the vegetation alone.

  • As someone who’s been running along the Bayou for 3+ years I’m a little bummed at how the whole trail is pretty much paved now. Used to be cool (and good on the knees!) to be able to run there while looking up at the Downtown skyline. The visual contrast was certainly a part of what made that area interesting.
    I still run there, but it seems the focus is on having cyclists use the path, not necessarily runners. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to join the crowds at Memorial or Rice at some point…

  • Great! Invasive species need to go.

    Once they get rid of invasive species its trivial for someone with experience to maintain native habitats with small effort and maintenance. I hope they dedicate enough for maintenance. It is easier to pull a small invasive weed than cut down a large invasive tree.

    The Texas tallgrasses could use more cultivation but there are plenty of native wildflowers and shorter grasses that would work well for this application. They are adapted to be stomped on by buffalo and cattle, I don’t think people with blankets will be much of a problem. It would look amazing to have this whole prairie blooming with wildflowers.

    Native species are better for the environment overall, promoting native animals, improving habitat resiliency, increasing biodiversity and preventing fragile monocultures.

  • As long as there is still park left over for those of us who use this area on a regular basis to enjoy, then I’m fully supportive of this enhancement.

    But agreed with #2…how will this work for Free Press??

  • This is a terrible design!
    1. The crowd is facing away from Downtown… so what’s the point? The stage might as well be setup anywhere else around town.
    2. What’s the space going to be used for 99% of the year when we aren’t having a performance? Ah, a big, hot empty field with no shade and anything to do.

    This is going to be a wasteland 99% of the year. You might have people playing frisbee on it… but that’s about it. I’m a live music nut (and performer) but this is going to create a wasted open space that will only be fun 1% of the year. I like the rest of the improvements along the bayou, but frankly this is crap.

  • I like native species as much as the next person and I understand the logic presented by Zero. However, the scientist in me keeps why, if the native species are so much better adapted than the invasives, do the invasives always seem to outcompete the natives?

  • Will they be designing this facility to be comfortable going underwater, maybe a couple of times a year? Might be something to think about during the design phase.

  • Buffalo Bayou Park is an amazing project that will be amazing and beneficial for all who use it. It will open up a lot of unusable areas and preserve much wilderness. Additional…a lot of additional, trails and paths are being added. Two along each bank. One for walkers close to the Bayou and another divided path for bikers and joggers. You can bet that there will be Volleyball courts and playgrounds. The ampatheater is a natural addition (although “Budweiser” is a HORRIBLE name for it), as this space is used for a lot of events. Not just FPSF. Come on, people. This is an exciting project. Be thankful something of this scale is getting done.

  • The original bayou plans called for another amphitheater above the old Cistern (other side of the bayou adjacent to the skatepark), would this be in addition to that space? Could be great for FPSF.

    To the people complaining about the wasted space, they are bringing other ‘wated space’ areas into use with in the initiative. I lived in Memorial Heights for several years and passed this often. Outside of festivals and events, this was hardly ever used. I never saw a game of volleyball outside of a festival. The swings were used sparingly.

  • T h e p r o j e c t i s a m a z i n g!

    I am greatly looking forward to this project being completed. I am thrilled about the huge vision and scope of the project. Everything from the lighting at night to the native plants being used and the kayak rental spots. Not to mention the new kids park, dog park, water music place grass theater and the miles of jogging trails they are installing closer to the waters edge oh and and the paved bike and walking trails that are mostly all installed.

  • The video of bands playing this amphitheatre will be awesome (great advertising for Houston). We could easily see more festivals similar to FPSF once complete and the infrastructure will support it well.

  • They currently have lots of the trees (many of them the live oaks) surrounded by temp fences. Does that mean they are cutting them down? I think this is a bad idea. This is one of the few ‘natural’ green spaces left.

  • Matt,

    The concrete paths they have put in place are intended primarily for cyclists. They are also in the process of building parallel softer-surface paths aimed at joggers. Don’t worry, when it’s all done it will serve all users better than before!

    Unfortunately, the construction does seem to be taking ridiculously long, and it’s annoying when they work on both sides of the bayou in one area at the same time so you can’t cross the bayou to avoid the construction, and it’s also annoying when they halfway do something and then abandon it for a few months to work on something else.


  • I love the projects by the BBP and what they have done, but I think they are wrong on this one. The more I read about the more angered I am. They keep talking about creating a green space; IT ALREADY IS A GREEN SPACE. If anything, this project is making it less of a green space. Cutting down pines for a better view of downtown; are you kidding me! The trees with the backdrop of downtown is what makes the view so pretty! The festivals/concerts have gone on just fine up until this point, why mess with it? Plus, part of what makes these festivals fun is that it isn’t a static venue.

  • A beautiful outdoor space, with a performing pavilion, and great views of downtown? Isn’t that what Discovery Green is? Plus it has restaurants, hotels, and an abundance of parking. I’m sure the city would like to see more use of Eleanor Tinsley park, but parking is a major issue.

  • So will this ampitheatre be like Miller outdoor theater in that the shows will be free? I am hoping it is not…we’ll get much better bands if they sell tickets. I can’t wait for the bitching about the the noise though.

  • Eric: glad to hear that, thanks!

  • love the idea of an amphitheater that will be used three time a year, at maximum, instead of a nice multi-age park that residents could make use of everyday. this is definitely the best use for public property.

    i stopped running along the bayou when everything got paved. may look better in a few years, but my knees won’t be so i’ve moved on. understand that it’s the most economical due to constant flooding in the area, but it’s a poor choice if you’re looking to increase the benefits of the area to residents, that’s for sure.

  • There is already a perfect amphitheater at Hermann Park.

    I have mixed feelings about this project. Like others have said, I don’t think it will be used much. I also prefer the natural amphitheater the bayou already provides with the hills. This will no longer be a “park”.

    Most importantly, to hell with Silver Eagle Distributors.

  • Who died?
    There’s a lot of needless negativity about this project / park amenity.
    “This takes up park space.”
    “It removes the volleyball court.”
    “Not enough parking.”
    “It isn’t going to be used enough”…..
    Where’s BITCH when you need’em?

  • This isn’t going to be a built ampitheatre like Miller Outdoor Theatre. It will be a relandscaped open meadow. The only structure will be the small skyline overlook.

  • As a person very familiar with the planning and work implementation for this area, I think most of the concerns raised in the comments (all of which concerns are valid) will be addressed. As has been noted, the concrete trails are designed primarily to help out the bikers, and a second set of foot trails will be in place for the walkers/runners. The areas where activity looks to have stopped are usually in very technically complex areas where soil quality, erosion, or other factors complicate matters or where contractors for multiple parties (the City, the Flood Control District, and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership) have responsibility for different work outcomes that must be flanged up carefully with each other. Once done, I think this park will be an area that all of Houston will be proud of and will want to share with their families and friends.

  • if you mean it will be re-landscaped over a small demolished park area and prevent any useful structures for use by city residents being built in the surrounding areas, then yes, i agree.

  • Please, let’s have more trees and less concrete in the bayou. One reason people run and cycle along the bayou is that there is some shade and the vegetation makes it a tad cooler than the surrounding streets.

  • Am I the only one to see the irony that they are cutting down pine trees in Tinsley Park along Buffalo Bayou, when they are trying to raise funds to plant pine trees in another park along Buffalo Bayou (Memorial Park) due to the loss of said trees from the drought 2 summers ago?
    I guess in Houston, trees and historic buildings just share the same fate to be demolished.

  • The master project design does include a very cool playground (near the current skate park) and other family friendly features, including picnic areas, an official dog park and covered/shaded areas, etc. This project is exceptional because it is a public/private partnership and is being largely funded by private donors (individuals, corporations and foundations) including $30 million from one Houston family foundation. What an incredible gift these philanthropists are giving our city for all our use. Thank you!

  • Other than the babies on this thread, the rest of Houston is very excited about this project. Jus toward downtown. It’s dope. It’s shaded and lush with vegetation that they planted. They haven’t even got to planting stuff yet on the new phase…just give them a bit to complete it all before you start whining like little babies.

  • This is an incredible project and the residents of Houston should be (and most are!) extremely greatful. A lot of generosity and a lot of hard work by some very dedicated people are really improving our city.

    I do agree on the tiny quibble that Bud Light Amphitheater is a terrible name and is reminiscent of a Toby Keith concert. Silver Eagle or some other moniker would be much more apt.

  • Someone doesn’t like the new concrete twice-as-wide paths? Well when I moved here from a state with extensive bike trails, I was dumbfounded that the only place in the city where I could go skate was Brays Bayou and that was a pot hole ridden trail. I took my bike on the Buffalo bayou pothole ridden asphalt pathway and hit a rut that required a $100 tune up.

    For a city this size, Houston was SORELY lacking in trails. They are coming in waves now and I love it. I can go from my apartment up through the Heights without have to traverse “bike lanes.” The Brays trail is getting better and better each week.

    The only problem is that on great weather days, these new trails will fill up and cause traffic jams. (See Lakeshore trail in Chicago on a 70 degree June day) but compared to where this city was 6 years ago, it’s amazing.

    The new wide trails at great and should withstand the flooding and handle the increased traffic