Overview and History

Studies show that events help drive tourism, our community’s biggest industry. As events begin to outgrow their current locations, the demand for a comprehensive facility that can host large events has increased.

In 2013, the HVS Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities Consulting firm was hired by the Town of Mammoth Lakes to complete an “Entertainment and Cultural Event Facilities” study, which was published in October 2013. This study provided an overview of comparative destinations, and focused on the creation of an events facility.

The Outdoor Performing Arts Center is a feasible mid to long-term project, mentioned in RECSTRATS, “Mammoth Lakes Parks and Rec Master PlanDRCEDS, CIP documents and General Plan documents (although its been called different names, the general concept of an events venue is cited in each of these documents). The intended use for the facility would be for sports and culture events, within an adopted plan, visitor driving and enhancing quality of life.

Several members of the community met once a week in January 2016, with the goal of narrowing down the list of potential sites to 3 to 5 options. The group included members from Town staff, MLR, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, local event producers, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Planning Commission and other interested members of the community. Recommendations made by the group have been presented to Town Council, and MLR is currently discussing options with the land managers and owners of the top locations.


Current Status

An ad hoc committee made up of several members of the community meets when there is an update on discussions between land owners and managers, MLR, and Town staff. There is also a Special Events programming ad hoc committee focused on event funding and future personnel needed, that has begun meeting, with many members overlapping in both groups, so that both projects are working on a unified vision for events in Mammoth Lakes.


Partners and Lead Agency

Town of Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes Recreation, Mammoth Lakes Tourism


Vision for the Facility

There has been an expressed need to determine a location for an outdoor performing arts center to host events as the present site commonly known as Sam’s Wood Site, is for sale. There are a number of smaller activities that use the Woods site parcel for special events, exhibitions and larger events like Bluesapalooza.

The 2012 Draft of the “Mammoth Lakes Parks and Rec Master Plan” says there is the potential for up to 16 acres built by 2025. Recreation Facilities Planning Priorities Grid (created by Recreation Commission) defines this as a space that includes amphitheater, equipment, picnic, venue space, and sporting and trail access. The document calls for a smaller outdoor “event areas” and plazas for outdoor recreation, multi-day events and general ambiance.


Location Options
  • Outdoor Performing Arts Venue sites Matrix
    • This Google Map shows approximate size and location of the sites identified in the Matrix that were approved by Town Council for further exploration.
  • The proposed outperforming arts center, Blue Sky Bowl amphitheater, is located on the Mammoth Lakes Foundation (MLF) property. The MLF has partnered with the Kern County Community College District and the Town of Mammoth Lakes to create elements of the business plan. MLF has partnered with the Kern County Community College District to create a Mammoth Arts and Culture Center (MACC) on the Mammoth Lakes Cerro Coso Community College District Campus. The CEO of the MLF, Evan Russell, has created a business plan that includes a 300 seat indoor facility, and a 500-800 outdoor facility which would be configured as a bowl next to the newly constructed indoor facility which would help protect the site from wind and weather issues. There is the potential for a larger outside amphitheater that could seat 5,000, though that is not part of the vision for the MACC at this time.
  • Currently the “Wood Site,” which is private land, is being scheduled for numerous events and festivals through negotiations with the landowner and the perspective event producer.
  • The USFS parcel on the south side of 203 between the RV Park and Commerce has been identified as a potential site for an outdoor performing arts center.
  • Bell Shaped Parcel – Bell Shaped Parcel Wetland Delineation Study was conducted by town staff and presented to Town Council on January 4, 2017.


Cost Estimates

At this time, specific funding sources have not been identified, nor how much the Outdoor Performing Arts Venue would cost. This relies on a number of variables that are still in the process of being discovered and rely greatly on what location will be most suitable.


Timeline and Next Steps

Mammoth Lakes Recreation recommends to Town Council the formation of a committee to further explore the town’s options – December 2015

Ad hoc Outdoor Performing Arts Center committee met weekly – January 2016

The group included members from Town staff, MLR, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, local event producers, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Planning Commission and other interested members of the community.

The committee narrowed down a list of over 30 possible locations to five. – March, 2016

The committee presentation to Town Council cited the top short-term and long-term locations for an Outdoor Performing Arts Center addressed in the filter. Town Council accepted the recommended sites for further exploration, plus two additional sites to be further investigated. – March, 2016

MLR and Town staff begin talks with owners of the private properties on the list. – April, 2016

MLR presents to Town Council a request to do a wetland study on the Bell Shapes Parcel, a Town-owned property. – April, 2016

Town and MLR begin talks with the Forest Service – May, 2016


Next steps are:

  • Continue to track and discuss the Sam Woods site location with the current owners.
  • Recommend a wind study for the top locations, in order to better estimate how much it will cost to mitigate its effects.


Relevant Documents