HOPEWELL (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — According to the Democrat and Chronicle the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center, will open with a bang next summer as a bigger, fancier facility, closed down last week with the rattle of drills, saws and jackhammers.
Less than two days after the season-finale concert by the ZZ Top, contractors went to work pulling out electrical fixtures, wiring, plumbing and furniture — including the more than 2,700 seats anchored to concrete pediments under the roof of the shell.
"And probably next week, we're going to start the process of taking off the roof," a complicated procedure that "will take about three or four weeks," said Terry Gardner, construction superintendent for the Rochester-based LeChase Construction.
After removing the existing infrastructure, crews hope to start work as early as next month pouring concrete for a new foundation that will double the size of the regional theatrical center.
The concert shell is owned by Finger Lakes Community College but managed by the Rochester Broadway Theatre League. Don Jeffries, executive director of RBTL, said that next June, when the concert shell is expected to reopen, it will provide seating for 5,000 under the expanded roof in addition to the existing outdoor lawn seating capacity of more than 10,000.
The new shell — which will reopen as the Constellation Brands Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center — will also be a more upscale facility, with state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting, more elaborate dining options and 50 private VIP boxes, most of which already have been leased for 10 years to patrons paying $5,000 to $15,000 a year.
Jeffries and community leaders who spearheaded a privately funded community drive to renovate and expand the arts center at a cost of $10 million say that the sale of the box seats and Constellation Brands' purchase of the naming rights for $1 million have already paid half the cost of the project.
The remainder is being financed at favorable interest rates through the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency because the arts center is part of the county-owned FLCC campus.
The facility will continue to be used for academic programs in addition to its role as a venue for big-name musical acts, plays, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concerts and other entertainment.
"It's an amazing story, the way the project came to be completely privately funded and in the process made the college eligible for matching funding (for other expansion projects) from the state because the shell is situated on the FLCC campus," Jeffries said.
Jeffries said that because of its size, the arts center, which once hosted some of the biggest musical acts in western New York, had become an economic liability in recent years as the bigger-name performers have bypassed it for larger and more lucrative stages, such as Darien Lake and the State Fair.
This summer, the shell hosted six popular acts, including the Allman Brothers, Moody Blues and REO Speedwagon and four RPO concerts, compared with about two dozen shows a year through the 1990s, Jeffries said.
"It couldn't survive the way it was," Jeffries said. "When I took over at RBTL three years ago, it (FLPAC) was losing over $100,000 a year. … That's when we sat down and said, 'We've got to find a solution.'"