CATHEDRAL CITY – Let the digging commence.

The much-anticipated groundbreaking ceremony for the Downtown Amphitheater is set for 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 at 68510 Avenida Lalo Guerrero.

Earlier this month, the City Council voted to award CS Legacy Construction Inc. a $1.6 million contract to build everything in the park except for the amphitheater, which paved the way for the groundbreaking.

As for the actual amphitheater, the City Council rejected a $2.5 million bid from Robert Clapper Construction Services Inc. to construct it because it came in over the city engineer’s estimate.

The city is going to work towards being its own general contractor for the amphitheater portion and subcontract out the various steps, according to Chris Parman, Communications/Events Manager.

The goal of starting construction this year is to have the project finished by September 15, 2019.

Construction on the 2,900-seat venue, which will feature theater-style seating, will serve as an anchor in the downtown entertainment district. Once completed, it will feature a walking trail and children’s play area.

Cathedral City has been actively rejuvenating its downtown district and commons area. A wealth of projects has already been completed, including new civic center complex and town square. This area includes city government offices, the police department, a cinema complex, a soon-to-open repertory theatre, restaurants, a parking structure, and recreational amenities such as the Fountain of Life, and the Cathedral City Festival Lawn, which provides grass areas for outdoor enjoyment and festival events.

To further enhance the downtown, the city has dedicated vacant land next to the Civic Center for the downtown outdoor amphitheater.

In a continuing effort to encourage public use of this civic space, the city applied for and received a $1.4 million California State Parks Land and Water Conservation Fund grant to create a new and interactive outdoor amphitheater space for cultural, entertainment and recreation events and activities. This grant must cover the cost to design and construct the theater and amenities, as well as all city costs for project and grant administration.

An additional $1.4 million was donated to the project as matching funds from the City Urban Revitalization Corporation (C.U.R.C.).  The City Council also authorized an additional $900,000 to help cover the estimated cost projections to build the amphitheater based on City Engineer projections.

The amphitheater will be utilized for the city’s signature festivals such as the Balloon Festival, Taste of Jalisco, and LGBT Days. It will also be available to be leased for third-party promotions.  Once complete, the amphitheater is expected to play host to other events such as Movies in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park, Food Truck events, and general park uses.

Currently, the park subject site is comprised of a vacant lot at the northeast corner of Cathedral Canyon Drive and Avenida Lalo Guerrero within the civic center complex and adjacent to the downtown parking structure. The total size of the lots is 2.51 acres.

The City Council and the Parks and Community Events Commission will host the groundbreaking ceremony. Light refreshments will be served.