The Krug Park Amphitheater’s current state goes beyond parody — literally.
In 2014, someone created a parody Facebook page for the historic space in Krug Park to highlight its lack of events (The headlining act every year was The Crickets, as in the chittering insects out in the grass). It got so tedious that even that page went dormant in 2018.
In that time, Krug Park lost the few events left to populate the space, with the ending of the Halloween-themed Kreepy Krug and the summertime Northside Festival. All it seems to have left is Holiday Park during the Christmas season.
For the past decade, people have tried to make strides to move it forward, pitching it as one of the biggest concert spaces in America and bringing competition to outdoor Kansas City-adjacent venues like Starlight Amphitheatre and Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, better known as Sandstone. With every talk comes a vocal lot of crossed arms and skepticism and seemingly no movement forward. To those people I say, it’s that time of the decade again.
Last week, it was announced that city officials are looking into addressing the problems that circle the possibility of turning Krug Park into an event venue. The conflicts range from sewer and water line issues to how Krug Park and its adjacent streets will handle the parking and traffic to alcohol sales. For some longtime residents, there’s also the issue of maintaining the park’s historical beauty and history.
To those in that latter category, I know I will make no friends with you saying this: It’s time to move on so Krug Park can enter an era for the next generation. While I’m not sure what bands St. Joseph and surrounding areas would draw, it’s worth putting some skin in the game to find out. Keep in mind, there was a time when bands like KISS, White Zombie and The Black Crowes used to play here.
If we can keep the park’s natural beauty and wildlife while using it as a concert venue, not unlike Starlight or even Red Rocks in Colorado, this could be a new era for the often-empty area as both an entertainment venue and nature area.
If you’re mad that I said that, I also will say that I get the skepticism. If you lived through Downtown’s destruction during urban renewal, I understand why you would think this smells of that (though I disagree with the comparison). If you wonder why we don’t do a revitalization of the Civic Arena instead, I say why can’t we want both?
I have fond memories of weddings, proposals and dates at Krug Park. It has some beautiful nature spots and is a nice getaway from the suburban noise of St. Joseph, rivaling Sunbridge, my personal favorite walking spot in the city. I think when people think of the concerts it could bring, they automatically think of an endless parade of the wildest, loudest shows all year long. No outdoor venue operates like that. It’s a handful of well-contained, secure concerts per month when the weather allows, then it would be Holiday Park in the offseason.
With the possibility of this happening years down the road, progress needs to be made now to make sure it’s viable, safe and well thought-out. Let’s make it a place of the future rather than the past.