Three rules hang above the swimming pool tucked away at Merriweather Post Pavilion: no diving, no glass, no running.

It’s the fourth, unwritten rule that makes this place so exclusive: No fans allowed.

Most concertgoers visiting Howard County’s historic music venue will likely never dip a toe into the glittering, turquoise oasis where employees say big names — Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson and the band Phish, to name a few — have floated since the pool was added in 2018.

Merriweather’s backstage facilities today are in the midst of a renaissance thanks to a grassroots campaign begun 20 years ago. Built by the Rouse Co. in 1967, it could no longer keep up with modern performances or audience needs when a coalition of community members and political leaders came together in the early aughts to preserve the storied Columbia venue in the heart of 40 wooded acres.

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Merriweather’s backstage amenities, including food catered by a vendor known for feeding Olympians, are designed to entice performers. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

The Washington, D.C.-based promotion company I.M.P. took over operations in 2004 and has overseen $65 million in renovations to the facilities and added amenities.

The pool alone is rare for an amphitheater and gives Merriweather an edge with managers at a time when independently operated venues are struggling to compete with multinational conglomerates, Audrey Fix Schaefer, I.M.P.’s communications director, said.

Merriweather leaders are aware of two other East Coast amphitheaters, BankNH Pavilion in New Hampshire and iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in Florida, with pools backstage.

When Kevin Lyman arrived in Howard County sunburnt and dirty from the road in 2018, the founder of The Warped Tour barely recognized Merriweather from the rustic venue that previously reminded him of a Boy Scout camp.

The heated, saltwater pool was flanked by sleek lounging chairs, an open-air dining space, a fireplace and several massage cabanas. Fountains trickled from the deep end to the wading pool, while the trees of Symphony Woods swayed overhead.

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Artists such as Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson and John Legend have enjoyed the pool before (and after!) their concerts. Along with a pool, there are also massage cabanas and picnic tables, making backstage feel like a five-star hotel. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Most U.S. amphitheaters come with backstage dressing rooms, production offices, a catering kitchen and sometimes a laundry room. Some might have a game room, Lyman said.

Merriweather’s amenities gave the 700 people traveling with The Warped Tour a psychological boost amid the grind of being on the road, Lyman said. The swimming pool in particular made the venue stand out.

The venue keeps lifeguards on the payroll during the summer concert season. Lyman said they were called in around the time 90 members of The Warped Tour piled into the water.

After 25 years of playing 100 venues, this memory was among his favorites.

“Our industry is such a transitory one,” Lyman said. “However, it felt like home when you went to Merriweather.”

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Gone are the handful of dressing rooms and the trailer that used to sit in the parking lot. Merriweather’s backstage amenities are designed to entice performers. Food is catered by a vendor known for feeding Olympians. Massages are available between sets.

“We were an old KOA campground, and now there’s a Ritz-Carlton pool back here,” said Brad Canfield, Merriweather’s vice president of operations.

When Canfield suggested adding a backstage pool, everyone thought the idea was crazy, he said Wednesday. Why would an amphitheater need a place to swim?

However, three decades spent working alongside an estimated 2,000 performers had honed his instinct for what artists want. He notably conned his way into working security for Merriweather as an 11-year-old by lying about his age on the application. All was forgiven when Canfield proved himself indispensable by procuring Madonna’s preferred brand of chewing gum.

Performers care most about food and the precious hours of leisure time between sets, he said.

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“You need something for people to remember you,” Canfield said. “We went from being one of the medium to small guys to being one of the big boys in the amphitheater world pretty quickly with the renovations.”

Fountains trickle from the deep end to the wading pool. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

The strategy appears to be working. Celebrity artists lately have teased photos and video of themselves enjoying the pool.

The music group Gorillaz posted an image of their fictional, illustrated band members sitting around the water’s edge.

Merriweather staff members like to show off a photo of Jack Johnson beaming alongside pool toys.

Canadian singer-songwriter Nicholas Durocher, who goes by the stage name Talk, closed his performance in June by declaring to throngs of fans, “I’m gonna go jump in the pool.” Fans couldn’t come along, but he later posted footage of his feat to YouTube.

The video shows the artist marching fully clothed to the water’s edge. He dives headfirst into the deep end, rules be damned.

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