October 12, 2017

Construction of the amphitheater at Truman Waterfront Park was slowed by four weeks due to Hurricane Irma, but the venue will be close enough to completion to host the 35th annual Headdress Ball later this month, according to City of Key West officials.

Final completion of the $4 million amphitheater has been moved from September to November, but the venue will be 95 percent finished when the Key West Business Guild Headdress Ball is held on October 26, according to Engineering Director Jim Bouquet.

“We believe that it will be substantially completed enough for them to hold that event,” Bouquet said.

The man made berm that will serve as a seating area will be covered with sod and have lighting installed before the ball and the only major work still needed is the installation of side panels on the amphitheater structure, Bouquet said.

The venue’s plywood exterior will be covered with Alucobond panels, an aluminum composite material that will serve as siding, according to Bouquet.

Naming rights for the venue was a hot topic over the summer, but storm recovery has pushed back endorsements, according to City Manager Jim Scholl.

“That’s something we’ll get to but right now we’re kind of distracted by events of the last month,” Scholl said.

Rumors heated up when Jimmy Buffett indicated he would have amphitheater naming news during a pre-concert skit in Camden, New Jersey in August. City officials denied a deal was in place and said the naming rights would need to go out to public bid, which has yet to be issued.

Opening the amphitheater with a local celebration will show that the venue was designed for the community, Key West Business Guild Executive Director Matt Hon said.

“I think it’s important for us to have our show there because it actually shows that the amphitheater is a community item. The city is doing this for our community,” Hon said.

The 35th annual ball will feature more than 25 contestants displaying homemade headdresses in an effort to win the $3,000 first prize, according to the Business Guild.

Mayor Craig Cates will be on hand at the event to dedicate the facility, according to the Guild website.

sunger@keysnews.com