Way back in the early 2000s, when I moved to Columbia, Merriweather Post Pavilion was being written off and left for dead. What to do with the property? Tear down MPP and develop the land. Or keep MPP there and turn it into a park. Scale down MPP and deveop the rest. Make it a historic site. Pretty much everyone had decided that the one thing that could not continue, was to maintain MPP as a concert venue. The then-promoter of MPP didn't really bring first, second or even third-rate acts there, and their indifference over the venue was nothing less than stunning.
But a small, determined group of individuals-- their number was 2 at first-- would not allow MPP to go gently into the good night. And after many months of hard work and sweat equity, that did not happen! Da Patch brings what went down very accurately in this article.
For the past several years it has been clear to this 30-year veteran of MPP that the place is back! No longer do I hear people decry what a horrible experience attending a concert at MPP is. Now, the complaints I hear about MPP are that they should have more shows there, and like how huge acts like The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen have played Baltimore's First Mariner Arena lately, that IMP should go after landing more top bill acts to Merriweather. I love the concept of seeing Muse or Arcade Fire there-- two groups whose show, brought to MPP, would be memorable. But hell, why stop there? U2 at MPP? Why not? Happened in the 80s. The crew can keep the big stage decorations in their boxes.
The article makes the connection between Save Merriweather transforming into the development plan for Downtown Columbia. While I think the Merriweather situation did catalyze the situation, not sure its totally apt to draw a direct correlation. I recall there being a conversation about redeveloping downtown back then, separate from the Merriweather conversation. But I grant that when Merriweather hit the fan, redeveloping downtown moved way up the county's radar screen, really fast. And it's great that it did!
The success of MPP is truly shared. The new promoter, IMP, deserves credit. So do the Save Merriwether activists (one of whom's made a name for himself in the county, I understand), the County Council, two County Executives (Robey and Ulman), and the Columbia Association. Over the years all of these entities, and more, have not just worked to save Merriweather, but to transform it. And the product of their work as it stands today is pretty cool.
Happy National Raspberry Cake Day! Let's be careful out there.