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Merriweather Post Pavilion Getting Multi-Million Dollar Makeover

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) -- Merriweather Post Pavilion is getting a multi-million dollar makeover. As Howard County leaders gave WJZ a tour of the venue, Thursday night's headliner showed his support for the cause.

Monique Griego has more on the changes we can expect.

Musician Jack Johnson is passionate about two things--music and the environment. His influence is why many venues, including Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, are going green.

"We decided if we were going to keep coming back and playing venues, they were going to have to do certain things to try to upgrade the concert experience for the fans. And a lot of that was greening measures," said Johnson.

Johnson joined Howard County leaders as they unveiled a $19 million renovation project. A big chunk of that money will be spent on eco-friendly upgrades.

"It really is an eco-friendly place. We're here living with the trees, animals and everything else," said Seth Hurwitz, I.M.P. venue operator.

The money is coming from two sources--the Howard County Council approved $9.5 million and the other half is funded by the venue's owner.

Johnson's suggestions led to Merriweather installing solar panels, a composting station and a bio-diesel fueling station. This new money will expand their solar capacity, make stands and bathrooms energy efficient and install LED lights. That's in addition to new seating, a new stage, new artist dressing rooms and a raised main roof.

"It is special. It's not just another venue," said Hurwitz. "It really needs proper care and planning. And we could even make it better."

Johnson hopes fans will not only be inspired by his music, but also his efforts to help the environment.

"My favorite bands helped to shape the person I am today and the way I looked at the world," he said.

Merriweather is taking things a step further by asking fans to bring empty water bottles so they can refill them.

The changes will roll out in stages over the next five years. The venue will remain open during renovations.

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