The project to construct the amphitheatre was approved by the State Board of Education in June 1989. The structure was envisioned as more than an outdoor facility for university performances, lectures, and casual gatherings. It was also an enhancement to the Greenbelt and a welcome addition to the Boise arts community. The "Elizabethan Fair" design of the structure looked similar to the Global Theater. It was meant to serve as the culmination of the university's goal of enhancing its indoor performance facilities with an exceptional outdoor theater for special cultural events. The amphitheatre was not envisioned as a "commercial facility, but a cultural bridge to city and region."
Two local businessmen donated the amphitheatre. One was Jim Nelson of Nelson Sand and Gravel who was the Prime Contractor for the project, and the other was Ron Yanke of Yanke Machine Shop. Art Albanese of Zabala-Giltzow-Albanese also donated architectural services for the 16-foot-tall semi-circular structure that could seat 600 people. The amphitheatre was valued at more than $250,000 when it was completed. The landscaping around the structure was created to shield it from surrounding buildings and maximize the natural setting.
The amphitheatre was completed by the summer of 1990. It was officially dedicated on July 3, 1990. Entertainment for the ceremony was provided by Boise Junior College graduate Gib Hochstrasser and his BSU Alumni Band called the "Little Big Band." The contributions of Jim Nelson, Ron Yanke, and Art Albanese were recognized at the ceremony. The amphitheatre was termed "Centennial" in honor of the centennial of Idaho that was signed into statehood by President Benjamin Harrison as the 43rd state on July 3, 1890. The dedication ceremony was one of the special events held that year to celebrate the state's birthday.
When the amphitheatre opened, it was intended for all agencies on a rental basis, whether it was for academic use, student use, or use by an outside agency. The structure was used annually for SummerFest, a popular festival held along the Boise River in the 1990s. The amphitheatre is currently a frequent host of university and community events.
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