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Sacramento On Verge Of Theater Renovation

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SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento City Council will decide whether to move ahead with a multi-million dollar renovation of its Community Center Theater after years of looking at a new theater in a different location as an option.

The facility was built in 1974 and is considered outdated in many ways. It's cramped lobby, poor acoustics, bad seat access and small restrooms are infamous.

"Getting to bathrooms is always interesting as a woman, and if you have kids, heaven help you," said theatergoer Elizabeth Pataki.

In recent months, there has been a campaign to renovate instead of relocate. Nearby restaurants and bars are especially anxious for the theater to remain where it is.

California Musical Theater and Broadway Sacramento President and CEO Richard Lewis says the downtown theater experience is added value for Sacramento's downtown.

"With Broadway Sacramento alone, it draws 170,000 patrons ... paying for dinner, enjoying the nightlife, having a drink before or after the show and makes for a very vibrant area here," said Lewis.

Preliminary plans are ambitious. They include knocking down the outdated concrete shell of the theater and lobby and extending it with a glass wall facing the street.

The Golden 1 Center has garnered the attention of the city for several years. Now that construction is well underway, Lewis says it's time that the east end of K street get some love.

The renovation will take up a majority of perhaps $200 million that will be budgeted for reworking the convention center. That's much less than a new facility at a different site might have cost.

Still, it's enough to build what Lewis describes as an iconic structure in a signature location. The same can be said of the Golden 1 Center.

Pataki was buying tickets for a symphony performance and also goes to the opera and Broadway musicals at theater. She says she's not anti-sports but believes city residents need entertainment options.

"If we are to grow and attract business and really be a ... magnate, we must develop our aesthetic side, our performing arts," said Pataki.

The city council is expected to move forward with detailed renovation plans. The next question is whether to close the facility while it's reworked or phase in construction so it can remain open for the Broadway musical season. Much of the cost is expected to come from an increase in the city's hotel room tax.