Sugar Land hopes performing arts venue  a show-stopper for city

By Betsy Dolan 

An architect’s rendering shows what the proposed $84 million dollar Sugar Land performing arts venue will look like.  The 6,500 facility is set to open in 2016.

As an encore to Constellation Field, the City of Sugar Land is preparing to build an $84 million performing arts center.

The 6,500 seat, 200,000 square foot facility will be located on 21-acres at Lexington Avenue and University Boulevard between the University of Houston campus and Brazos River Park. Construction will start in 2014 and the venue is slated to open in 2016.

The facility is part of a 2007 plan to make Sugar Land a tourism and entertainment destination. In 2008, Sugar Land voters approved creation of an entertainment district with sales tax and venue-specific taxes, which allowed construction of the baseball stadium and plans for the performing arts venue.

“We’ve been very progressive in planning for our future,” said Sugar Land City Manager Allan Bogard. “We know that this venue, just like Constellation Field, will create jobs, bring in revenue and attract people from all over the region to our city.”

The Sugar Land Development Corporation approved a design agreement with Martinez & Johnson Architects on September 3 and the renderings of the venue were released on September 4. Sugar Land City Council has contracted Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group to build the venue and manage its operations for 30 years.

“This facility will fill the void that exists between The Woodlands and Toyota Center,” said ACE Theatrical CEO, David Anderson. “What we are planning to do in Sugar Land does not currently exist anywhere in the country. We’ll find people copying what we are doing here.”

Anderson said new technology will allow the theater’s walls to be compacted and expanded to accommodate 2,000, 4,000 or 6,500 seats. In addition, the area surrounding the venue is zoned for commercial, office and entertainment purposes.

City officials stressed that no general fund tax dollars will be spent on the project. Based on voters’ approval of the bond measures in 2008 and the City’s goal to create a self-sustaining venue, the project will be funded through a portion of sales tax revenues and hotel taxes; rent revenues generated by the facility and ACE will make a $10 million equity contribution.

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