January 6, 2014

Amphitheater being built at UC Merced

Crews are working on an amphitheater at UC Merced thanks to a $250,000 gift from a local couple.

Pretty soon UC Merced will have a new venue for plays, concerts, recitals and other events.

Crews are putting an outdoor amphitheater next to Little Lake, near the center of campus, thanks to a $250,000 grant from longtime supporters of the university, Joel and Elizabeth Wallace.

The theater, expected to be completed around spring break, will have room for about 2,000 spectators on a grassy hill as well as seating for those with special needs.

“What we’ve created is a beautiful, big platform by the lake and a lighted path going down to the stage,” said Jane Lawrence, vice chancellor for student affairs.

The amphitheater was the brainchild of UC Merced’s Class of 2009. The students started a fundraising campaign but fell short of their goal.

Lawrence said the theater will be a venue used on evenings when the weather is pleasant for movies, plays, poetry and local bands, among other types performances. Lawrence said the venue could also be used for weddings or other events.

Elizabeth Wallace, former president of Red Rock Properties and Red Rock Winery, said representatives from the Class of 2009 approached her about funding the project. She said she’s been a supporter of the university because “UC Merced is going to be good for Merced.”

“We’re always happy if we can help,” she said.

Wallace’s husband, Joel, was owner of Wallace Transport Corp. and trucking and property management companies.

The Wallaces have contributed money to several projects on campus, including the Yablokoff-Wallace Health Science Research Endowment and Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center.

The amphitheater is just one project under construction on the university campus.

Lawrence said the Student Services Building, which opened two 90-seat classrooms in the fall, will open four more classrooms to students this month – two of them with 90 seats, one with 20 and another with 22 seats. The building has several offices as well.

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