Entertainment venue hosts first events
Compiled by Joe Southern
It’s show time!
After a decade of planning, preparing and two years of construction, the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land is finally open for business.
Although there is still a long checklist of things to take care of, the new entertainment performance venue hosted its first live events, including the Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular on Sunday with the Fort Bend Orchestra. Last Friday the venue hosted a private event for city officials and business partners and on Wednesday the doors were opened up to local media for a tour.
“We’ve got a vision of what the City of Sugar Land had 10 years ago,” said Gary Becker, president of ACE SL, the city’s partner in the project.
Built by the City of Sugar Land in partnership with ACE SL, the $84 million project will further position the city as a destination location for culture and entertainment.
“Not only will Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land be a venue unlike any other in the region, but we aim to offer patrons the opportunity to experience a range of artists and productions that can’t be found elsewhere,” Becker said. “Our opening week featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Don Henley and Dirty Dancing is the perfect example of the performance variety ticket holders will continue to find at Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land.”
Located off of U.S. Highway 59 and University Boulevard, Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land is situated on a portion of 38.5 acres of city property. It will set a new standard for live performance venues and will be equipped to host a wide array of programming including national music and comedy artists, children and family entertainment, theatrically-staged productions and cultural and performing arts attractions. It will also be open to the community for local graduations and community theatre performances.
Designed for flexibility, the 200,000-square-foot venue incorporates innovative moveable walls that can expand and contract to create four different seating capacities that range from an intimate setting of 3,400 seats to a maximum of 6,400. It also features 14 luxury suites, corporate hospitality areas, and the latest sound, light and video technology. Other offerings include space to house up to 14 production trucks and buses, as well as 2,500 guest parking spaces.
As a demonstration for members of the media, Dirty Dancing cast members Jordan Edwin André and Lindsey Hailes performed a sample of the song “(I’ve had) The Time of My Life.”
“With the opening of Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land will add ‘entertainment destination’ to its long list of accolades,” said Randy Bloom, General Manager, Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land. “We hope that our region’s residents will look to the venue not only as their first choice for high-quality performances, but also as the cultural heartbeat of the community.”
Noting the uniqueness of the facility, its state-of-the-art technology and the quality of the entertainment it is attracting, Bloom called the Smart Financial Centre “an entertainment venue … second to none.”
“This is really something unique. It’s something the City of Houston and the City of Sugar Land have never seen before,” Bloom said.
In addition to its upscale design, ACE SL partnered with prestigious companies for sponsorships. In February 2015, Smart Financial Credit Union was awarded the naming rights of the performance venue, agreeing to a five-year term with a five-year option to extend. The company will also host “The Hub,” a 750-square-foot space within the main lobby, featuring an interactive selfie photo station, high-speed charging station for wireless devices, couches and ottomans and a Smart Play video kiosk with an interactive touch screen.
“Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land is an example of one of the many ways Smart Financial Credit Union gives back to the communities we have proudly served for more than 80 years,” said Susan Chapman, VP Marketing Strategy/CMO, Smart Financial Credit Union. “With its high-tech, high-touch features, The Hub was designed to complement Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land’s innovative design. The Hub will provide a fun, interactive experience including a common space to congregate, relax and recharge, while educating visitors about the benefits of credit union membership.”
Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land is another notable sponsor as the official automotive sponsor. The partnership includes a luxury lounge for suite and premium seat holders, the Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land concert series, automotive displays, audience engagement opportunities such as interactive kiosks and test drive events, and exclusive reveal events to showcase new Mercedes-Benz models.
Silver Eagle Distributors and its family of brands also secured a multi-year sponsorship, including the naming of Bud Light as the official beer of Smart Financial Centre. The sponsorship will also include a concert series presented by Bud Light.
Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land will feature top-of-the-line concessions including Rockin’ & Roastin’ coffee from Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer. The fresh, organic coffee will be brewed and served onsite at each of the concession locations in the Centre, the Grand Suites and the Mercedes – Benz of Sugar Land Lounge. The coffee will also be available at a unique, rock ’n roll-themed coffee cart in the lobby that has been custom designed for the venue.
The Centre recently announced a five-year partnership with Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. As the official healthcare partner, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land will sponsor on-site medical services and a first aid clinic that will be available to all entertainers and patrons of the performance venue. Other sponsors for the facility include Silver Eagle, Think Energy and PepsiCo.
Smart Financial Centre will fill the region’s void in attracting large-scale, national performances and position Sugar Land as a destination location for culture and entertainment. It follows the installation of Constellation Field, home to the Sugar Land Skeeters. ACE SL, LLC and the City of Sugar Land broke ground on Smart Financial Centre in December 2014. Linbeck Group, LLC is serving as the construction manager for the facility, which was designed by Martinez + Johnson Architecture.