Midnight Sun Wesley Case covers the city's after-hours scene

After roof collapse, Merriweather Post Pavilion plans to open with new roof in time for spring concert season

After the roof of Merriweather Post Pavilion collapsed on Saturday, the Columbia outdoor music venue said Tuesday that it is planning to open with a new roof in time for its first concert of 2018.

Planning for a new roof has begun, with construction to quickly follow, said Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director for I.M.P., the facility’s owner — said. The venue will host its first concert in early spring, she said. Merriweather Post Pavilion has not yet announced the first show of the season.

“I anticipate it will be ready for the opening date,” Schaefer said. “The timing of it is such that we’re able to do this in plenty of time for the season to start.”

The roof that covers the amphitheater’s stage and seating was in the midst of being raised 20 feet, part of an ongoing, five-year renovation project at the venue. The roof fell at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the venue.

No one was injured, a Howard County fire spokeswoman said on Saturday. On Tuesday, a Howard County fire spokesman said the department turned the scene over to the venue on Saturday morning, and did not expect to be involved going forward.

The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission said Saturday the cause would be investigated; executive director Ian Kennedy said on Tuesday there was no further information on the cause of the collapse. Schaefer said it was too soon to tell the exact cause, though I.M.P. chairman Seth Hurwitz suggested in a statement Saturday that wind was a factor.

“Honestly, the mood here is grateful,” Schaefer said of the lack of injuries. “It’s just a construction project. … Was this part of the plan? No, but this is what you do when things happen. You figure out, ‘OK, what’s the next logical move?’”

Merriweather Post Pavilion will still build the new roof at the height originally planned — 51 feet at its tallest point, Schaefer said. Employees gathered from the scene the wood used in the original, Frank Gehry-designed facade, with plans to reuse it for the new roof, she said.

“It has some historic import for us,” Schaefer said of the original materials. “It’s a warm feeling for us.”

The roof’s collapse will not impact the 2018 concert season, or events like nearby high school graduations, Schaefer said.

The first concert of last year’s Merriweather season, featuring DJ and producer deadmau5, took place April 8. The only concert that has been announced for 2018 is the country duo Sugarland on July 14.

wesley.case@baltsun.com

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