Caras Park bandshell

Satellite Love plays at Kids Rootsfest in the Caras Park band shell in 2017. The band shell will be getting a new canopy and improvements this spring.

Rebekah Welch, Missoulian

The Caras Park band shell is getting an upgrade.

Almost seven years after it was built, the canopied stage will get a new roof to replace the holey, aging canopy.

“It’s deteriorated much quicker than we had anticipated,” Downtown Association Director Linda McCarthy said.

The new canopy fabric will match the shell over the Caras Park pavilion, McCarthy said, and should last about as long — 15 to 20 years. The new canopy also will stay up year-round, just like the pavilion’s.

The replacement canopy will extend 5 feet farther than the current one, which will help shelter performers and their equipment from rain and sun, McCarthy said.

“When you have performers out there and they have all that electronic equipment, you have to protect them from the elements.”

McCarthy said the new canopy will cost $22,000-$25,000, and will come from private funding. Construction should start in March and be finished by May 1.

The Parks & Recreation Board, which has to approve any Caras Park infrastructure improvements, unanimously supported the project at its Tuesday meeting.

“We think it adds a longer season and better weather protection,” Park & Rec Director Donna Gaukler said Tuesday. “It’ll keep the area a little bit cooler and a little bit dryer.”

Gaukler said she asked for motion-sensing lights to be added to the canopy, as a deterrent for homeless people sleeping under it at night.

The Caras Park stage and band shell were built in 2011, after years of using a giant tent that had to be set up for every event, McCarthy said. The concrete stage has aged well, but the canopy has seen some wear and tear from a variety of factors, including vandalism.

Robert Giblin, a member of the Caras Park Improvements Committee, wrote a letter to Parks & Rec regarding the project.

“Over the last several years, the Missoula Downtown Association has patched five holes in the bandshell canopy, and it now has two other holes and (is) showing signs of numerous others,” Giblin wrote. “The condition of the canopy has deteriorated past the point of usefulness”.

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City, County Government Reporter

Government reporter for the Missoulian.