This summer, Denver’s Civic Center will feature 30 days of film. But they won’t be like the free jazz and classical concerts at City Park, which are patronized by listeners toting blankets, picnic baskets, and boxes of wine. Instead, each attendee will pay $15 in advance or $20 at the park for the first-run shows, put on by Massachusetts-based U.S. Open Air LLC, and concessionaires will sell the liquor and food. City Council has voted 8-4 to approve the plan, which is slated to expand to City Park in 2012. Supporters tell The Denver Post the plan will help Denver’s sagging budget, while detractors see profiteering. Carolyn Etter, former manager of the Department of Parks and Recreation under former Mayor Federico PeÃ±a, is against the idea. “The public parks should be free and open to all,” she says. “This is bad public policy, a bad precedent for the commercialization of public parks.”
But residents of the Curtis Park neighborhood, like John Hayden, call the Civic Center “dead space.” He tried launching a similar program in Curtis Park in 2007 but claims it failed because it depended on donations. Others think ticket prices are too steep. “That’s a ton money to ask for a show,” Cheryl Velasquez, a Denver resident, tells 7News. In an editorial, the Post praises the plan as one that will liven up Civic Center while bringing in money.