EAST COUNTY — Kristin Becnel smiles as she points to hundreds of names handwritten in black Sharpie on the concrete beams of Bayside Community Church’s expansion.
Each name, she says, verifies the church’s mission to serve the four communities surrounding its locations.
The names are not only the product of a June 27 monthly nighttime service, but also represent the community’s role as Bayside constructs a new $16 million, 70,000-square-foot auditorium at its main campus.
“It’s exciting to see people’s anticipation and excitement for what’s next,” said Becnel, Bayside’s executive director of creative ministry. “They want to be involved.”
Willis Smith Construction crews have established the building’s skeleton with the basic roofing, beams and concrete flooring in place. The contractor is on schedule for a December completion.
Once finished, the new building will feature “fixed theater seating,” nine classrooms, a boat-themed children’s play area and a range of other amenities for guests.
The new facility will replace the current auditorium, which holds up to 1,000 people, Administrative Director Dave Neiman said. The current auditorium will likely house middle- and high school- aged youth group activities, Becnel said, although no definitive plans have been made for the space, yet.
Construction has also started on the addition of 791 parking spaces to accommodate churchgoers, Neiman said.
The addition will have the capacity to hold about 2,500 attendees.
Since it opened its doors on State Road 64 in 2010, Bayside has planned to grow.
Its east campus already offers five services on the weekends — three on Saturdays and two on Sundays.
“The need was there for this new building,” Becnel said. “Having more room allows us to do more things with the community. I’m most excited about the opportunity to provide more services and to serve more people.”
BY THE NUMBERS
4 The number of Bayside locations
1,000 The capacity of the current East Bradenton auditorium
2,500 The capacity of the new facility
70,000 The square footage of the new facility
16 million In dollars, the price of the construction
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