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SALT LAKE CITY -- A popular summer attraction for downtown Salt Lake City will now draw thousands to a park with a troubled reputation. The Twilight Concert Series will move from the Gallivan Center to Pioneer Park.
In the last few years, the city worked to cut crime in Pioneer Park, attract more activities and make the park more welcoming. Free concerts that average 16,000 people create the kind of positive energy that city leaders like downtown.
The Thursday night concerts turned into a huge draw, and now the Gallivan Center is getting a $7 million overhaul. Series Director Casey Jarman says they chose Pioneer Park after looking at several other options, but they had to leave Gallivan.
"Construction has forced our hand, to move in a direction we were already thinking about going," says Jarman.
The 23rd year of the Twilight Concert Series launches on a temporary stage to be built at Pioneer Park. The series kicks off Thursday, July 8. The series will feature bands Modest Mouse, Girl Talk, Beirut, Sharon Jones and others in the eight weeks that follow.
"It's really a good move," says Jarman. "It will be good for the concert series and for the community as well."
Pioneer Park still draws sneers from many people because of its reputation as a free-for-all crime zone that attracts the homeless and scares away anyone else. But, city leaders say the Farmers Market and activities like concerts help to transform the park into a pleasant place for families.
"It's one of many things we've been doing to make sure people get to enjoy Pioneer Park, and it's welcoming for everybody," says Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "It's going to bring a lot of folks and help the businesses."
In recent years, the city put a lot of money and effort into improving the environment in and around Pioneer Park.
"To make it what it should be: a jewel in the middle of our city that is welcoming to everyone in our community," says the Mayor.
Becker signed off on an alcohol license for the park during the concerts. The organizers tell the Salt Lake Tribune the alcohol sales bring in the revenue that allows them to get the bands.
The concerts create a festival atmosphere with a Twilight Market for food, drinks and handmade crafts.
"The Twilight Concert Series is one of the best things about Salt Lake in the summer, and it's great to see that energy, that vitality, that enthusiasm come to Pioneer Park," says Jason Mathis, Downtown Alliance Executive Director.
Big crowds will certainly transform the park on Thursdays, and neighborhood businesses will benefit.
"We're thrilled for Salt Lake City and this whole part of our downtown," says the mayor.
Modest Mouse starts the series July 8. The schedule runs through Aug. 26 and all shows are free. The stage will go up this summer and come down after the last show.
"We see this as really one more piece of what is really going to change this neighborhood and make it even more dynamic," says Mathis.