Penn Led Legislative Funding Effort for Iconic Salem Amphitheater

The uniquely designed Gerry Frank/Salem Rotary Amphitheater, which should be completed in the fall of 2020, will become an iconic part of the capital city’s riverfront and a major cultural and entertainment venue.

The uniquely designed Gerry Frank/Salem Rotary Amphitheater, which should be completed in the fall of 2020, will become an iconic part of the capital city’s riverfront and a major cultural and entertainment venue.

CFM Partner Dale Penn II led the successful lobby effort at the 2019 Oregon legislature that resulted in a $1 million grant to build the Gerry Frank /Salem Rotary Amphitheater at Riverfront Park.

“I’m a fervent supporter of Rotary and what it does for communities,” Penn said. “But my main reason in leading the lobby effort was my son, Grayson, who I want to have an amazing event site in Salem that he can experience as he grows up.” 

Community fundraising has already topped $1.4 million. The City of Salem has committed to bringing utilities to the riverfront site, expand public access and enhance existing undeveloped land. The amphitheater should be completed in the fall of 2020.

The uniquely designed amphitheater was named in honor of Frank for his lifetime of tireless support for Oregon tourism, business development, public safety and social services. Frank holds membership card No. 1 for the Salem Rotary.

The open-weave basket design honors the Native American Kalapuya who once lived on the site of the amphitheater, which will become a regional and cultural landmark and host to concerts, festivals, school events and cultural education.

Salem-area lawmakers, including the late Senate Jackie Winters, championed the state funding, Penn said. Bruce Anderson of NW Natural, Tammy Dennee of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and Ozzie Rose joined Penn in lobbying for the $1 million grant.

“Any allocation of $1 million is tough, no matter the economic situation, so this required diligent work, persuasive economic and cultural arguments and support from legislative leaders like Senators Betsy Johnson, Denyc Boles and Winters along with Representatives Brian Clem, Paul Evans and others,” Penn said.

Penn leads CFM’s state affairs practice and has extensive experience lobbying the Oregon Joint Ways and Means Committee, which makes spending decisions in the legislature.