The Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheatre kicked off its opening weekend with a performance by country singer, Lee Brice.
They're following all local and state safety guidelines. So, people will wear masks and practice social distancing. It'll also only be at half capacity, so about 3,500 people will be in attendance.
WAAY 31 spoke with Lee Brice and he said the size of the crowd doesn't matter. What matters is being able to perform.
“This is still going to be live faces, and smiles, and voices, and claps, and energy coming back towards us," he said. "We’ve got to start somewhere. I still think it’s going to be a great time and going to feel good, you know.”
The general manager of the Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheatre, Patrick O'Brien, said their main focus for concerts and events is keeping everyone safe. They've increased cleaning protocols and people are expected to wear masks.
It's a large amphitheater and O'Brien said that should help people feel confident, as well as the way the seating is arranged.
“It’s a socially distanced atmosphere," said O'Brien. "In the pit what we did is if you purchased a ticket in the pit, it automatically deleted some seats around you. So, again, that organically created that social distancing.”
This is one of the first concerts in North Alabama since the pandemic began, and Lee Brice is the first artist to perform in the amphitheater. Brice said he is very thankful to be breaking it in.
“It’s cool just to be out playing music at all, you know, after this last year," said Brice. "Man, to be able to just start it out with this kind of a bang and be able to come out to a place that nobody’s played yet, I mean, it’s such an honor, right. I want to get a little piece of concrete to put my boot in it or something.”
O'Brien said having performances like the one on Friday night will have an impact on the Sand Mountain region. Oftentimes people make going to a concert a whole event; they'll get food and drinks before the concert, during it, and then they might even stay in a hotel afterward. All of that has a common theme: putting money back into our local economy.
The amphitheater plans to have about seven concerts this year and even more next. It can seat about 7,000 people, but they're limiting it to half capacity because of the coronavirus.
O'Brien said the park is starting a lot of growth in the area. He said more hotels and restaurants are being built.
Impacting the economic growth of the Sand Mountain region is one of O'Brien's main goals.
“All of that is, again, backed by and stems from an appetite for growth," he said. "That impact will spill over, again, outside of Albertville into the entire region, and really into the entire south east for some of our events. So, we’re excited, we’re just getting started and we’re going to continue to grow."
O'Brien said people will see all the Sand Mountain area has to offer when they come from all over for concerts like the one on Friday night.
The park is having events on Saturday as well to continue its grand opening celebration.