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AEGON Offers $225,000 to Cedar Rapids Amphitheater

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The AEGON Transamerica Foundation has agreed to provide a $225,000 grant to the city of Cedar Rapids to help fund the $7-million-plus outdoor riverfront amphitheater that the city plans to build downtown on the west bank of the Cedar River.

AEGON notified the city of its grant award in a letter last week, and the city will announce the award and likely others at a news conference slated for 11:15 a.m. today at the police station. The amphitheater is proposed to go next door to the station.

The city is hoping to raise $2 million in private donations for the amphitheater project, however, the City Council agreed in November to use city funds to cover $1 million of that amount in case the private donations fall short.

The amphitheater project now is leaping to the forefront as the city heads to Des Moines next week in an effort to secure a state River Enhancement Community and Tourism grant for $1.8 million to go along with a $1.75 million I-JOBS disaster grant the city already has received for the project.

The city has talked for a decade or more about building an outdoor riverfront amphitheater.

The one now planned will be designed to flood and also will serve as a piece of the city's new flood-protection system on the west side of the Cedar River.

The state I-JOBS money for the project will pay for work, expected to start in the spring, to build a levee at the site. The other funds will be used to build the amphitheater into the levee in 2012.

The venue then should be open in 2013. It is expected to attract 52 events including six to eight touring shows and 57,300 patrons a year, the city has estimated.

The city has said it envisions a 3,000-seat amphitheater, though some have suggested that it should be larger.

AEGON's grant will come in three, 75,000 payments from December 2010 through December 2012, with the final two payments subject to the foundation's annual review process.

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