Performing Arts Community Pushes for Theater Face-Lift

SACRAMENTO -- Performing arts patrons are mounting a show of support at Tuesday's City Council meeting for financing a renovation of the Community Center Theater, which they say is outdated. The $100 million projected cost will likely come from increased hotel occupancy taxes.

But proponents like the California Musical Theater, which stages a Broadway musical series at the theater, say it's a bargain price considering a theater built from scratch at another location could cost three times as much. The plan will also include upgrades to the Memorial Auditorium, which will serve as a replacement during the one-year renovation.

In the long history of sports arena proposals, sport fans have always been pitted against musical, ballet, symphony and opera patrons when it comes to city financing. Now theatergoers say a new theater will complement the new Golden 1 Center in economic revitalization of the city core.

"It will be perfect for K Street with the arena at one end and the theater at the other," said Scott Klier, executive producer of the California Musical Theater, a member of the Transform916 Coalition supporting the theater project.

Klier says restaurants and hotel operators are on board with the theater renovation plan. But the cost is still steep for a city that has other needs. And there is pressure to reserve enough money to expand the convention center next door, which is losing business to other convention cities that have larger facilities.

That's why backers of the plan are encouraging theatergoers to turn out in force at the Oct.18 city council meeting when a formal proposal will be presented to the council.