Woodland Pavilion reopens bigger

April 13, 2009 4:04:49 PM PDT
One of the area's best outdoor entertainment venues is on the road to recovery.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

High winds and flying debris from Hurricane Ike caused a lot of damage to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. Seven months after the storm, it's about to reopen and developers say the concert venue will be better than ever.

Images from SkyEye HD after the hurricane revealed the trademark canopy that covered the seating area was totally gone. It was a victim of the 80 mile an hour wind and flying debris that tore the fabric and killed the remainder of the entertainment season.

For the past four months, work has been going on round the clock since December to rebuild what was lost. But what visitors will experience at re-opening in May will not be the Pavilion they remember.

"They redesigned the columns, the fabric, there is two and a half times more fabric than before and 6,500 hard seats now instead of 2,500," said George Mitchell of Mitchell Development. "They did all this work in four and a half months."

Ike did $3 million worth of damage to the Woodlands Pavilion, but as he did with his Galveston properties, George Mitchell is going beyond and above repairs with an eye on improvements and expansion. In this case, he is spending $9.5 million on upgrades. Among the changes are new Teflon and fiberglass canopies designed to withstand 110 mile per hour winds. There is also more covered seating and an improved sound system for the lawn.

"We could very easily have said, 'We can't do it, we'll close and see you in 2010,'" said Pavilion director Jerry McDonald. "But we elected to step it up a notch and find the people to do the work and open May 1 and keep the staff intact."

Employees kept their jobs and others were hired to rebuild. The hard work is paying off since some of the shows are already sold out

"They've missed it and a lot of people have been waiting for it to come back, so it's going to be a good year," Mitchell told us.

The first concert at the new Pavilion is the Dave Matthews Band which takes place Friday, May 1. You can see the schedule here.

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