It was a packed house at the Firehouse Theatre at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. Many listened to an ambitious goal of a building a new entertainment and performing arts center in Lubbock.
The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce and other key stakeholders reviewed results from a feasibility study on the new center. This comes at a time when the city is looking at the future of the aging Lubbock Municipal Auditorium.
Developers with Garfield Traub presented their findings on a new performing arts center. The needs assessment and feasibility study found that a market is strong for a new facility.
The Lubbock Entertainment and Performing Arts Association (LEPAA) is the non-profit that will carry this project. The organization will also lead the fundraising campaign of $85 million.
A potential site for the center would be at the current Texas Department of Public Safety building near the Lubbock Civic Center. The facility would seat about 2,000. It would include a movable orchestra floor, and state of the art acoustics.
Tim Collins Chairman of LEPAA said, "We know that it is time for an update," he said. "We don't know how that is going to come about, and here are some private citizens that have taken the bull by the horns and we are going to go and take care of it ourselves. That is the goal to create a new opportunity and we wouldn't have to involve the city in this process."
The study comes as at a time when the city is looking at what to do with the 57-year-old Lubbock Municipal Auditorium. Conditions are so bad, production companies are threatening to pull their shows for poor working conditions.
City Councilman Jim Gerlt said there are still no plans on what to do with the auditorium.
"If this performing arts center becomes a reality, then it would take some of the pressure off on what to do with the City Bank Auditorium," he said. "If we can get a break on the auditorium by private funds coming in to build a performing arts center... that's wonderful."
May 2014 is the target to begin construction. The new facility is expected to generate more then $3.7 million in sales per year.
LEPAA already has a jumpstart in fundraising with commitments from the CH Foundation, and Helen Jones Foundation both totaling $20 million.