The mostly dusty, though oak-laden, grounds of Waterloo Park have seen many a shindig come and go over the years. From 1975 until its temporary(ish) closing in 2011, the 11-acre park located along Waller Creek, just a block from the state Capitol grounds, was a relaxed and rambling green space perfect for the relaxed and rambling events of yore (as well as a convenient place for lunch or a stroll for nearby downtown workers). 

An unexpectedly extended closure connected to the construction of a tunnel to control flooding has, in at least one way, turned out to be a good thing, as it allowed its reinvention and preservation as part of Waterloo Greenway Conservancy’s much larger project of restoring Waller Creek and its surrounds as an urban linear park. Now, finally, the time has come for its reopening, to include the unveiling of Moody Amphitheater, a venue that will enable the park to resume its tradition of hosting memorable outdoor events—though those are likely to be a bit less scruffy this time around.

In recognition of the park’s history as a vital gathering place for the city, the Conservancy and the city of Austin today announced that it will host a free, family-friendly festival it’s calling Community Day for the park’s grand opening—Saturday, August 14, save the date.

Waterloo Park is part of Waterloo Greenway, a linear park taking shape along Waller Creek.Courtesy of Waterloo Greenway

The festival that day—which will take place literally all over the park and include everything from performing arts at Lebermann Plaza to environmental and STEM programming, with a healthy dose of kids activities on its lawns—will conclude with a “Taste of Austin'' concert featuring some Austin live-music standard-bearers at the new, 5,000-person Moody Amphitheater.

On August 20, Gary Clark Jr. will perform at the first ticketed concert to take place at the amphitheater, which is managed and booked by C3 Presents and Live Nation. Ticketmaster will be selling tickets to the show starting at 10 a.m. Friday, June 25 (save the date). Waterloo Greenway will partner with the companies to provide 100 free tickets for the show, and all future concerts at the amphitheater will be available to the community through a lottery system. 

The Moody AmphitheaterCourtesy of Waterloo Greenway

The Kitty King Powell Lawn in Waterloo ParkCourtesy of Waterloo Greenway

Lebermann Plaza in Waterloo ParkCourtesy of Waterloo Greenway

Austinites returning to the park will find it familiar if a bit buffed up, with a 1.5-mile hike-and-bike trail; rolling lawns for fitness activities, picnics, and sprawling; and new, custom playscapes. It will also include a Family Pavilion with food trucks and gender-neutral bathrooms designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. A public-private partnership between the city and the conservancy, the $88 million project was designed by a team led by New York-based architecture firm Thomas Phifer and Partners and landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, based in Brooklyn, New York, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Log Jam playscape at Waterloo ParkCourtesy of Waterloo Greenway

Moody Amphitheater by nightCourtesy of Waterloo Greenway

The reinvented park is designed to connect closely with the Waller Creek habitat—which, let’s face it, has been a bug as much as a feature in recent iterations. Indeed, the reopening marks the completion of the first phase of the Waterloo Greenway park system, which will stretch from 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake, include a wide array of natural and cultural destinations, and, not incidentally, involve the restoration of the creek’s habitat as a whole.

Waterloo Park is situated between state buildings and parking lots on one side and Red River Street's burgeoning medical and innovation districts on the other.Courtesy of Waterloo Greenway

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In the parallel interest of a healthier human habitat, Waterloo Greenway and its partners will follow state and local COVID-19 health and safety guidelines as the park and amphitheater open.