More Than $5 Million In Long Beach Convention Center Upgrades On Agenda
Councilmembers To Vote On Permitting Arena, Center Theater Improvement Projects
By Sean Belk - Staff Writer
July 3, 2012 – Two new capital improvement projects worth about $5.3 million for the Long Beach Arena and the Center Theater at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, may soon get started.
The Long Beach City Council is expected to vote tonight, July 3, on giving the convention center’s management company, SMG, full authority to handle the projects. The city council has already allocated the funding from tidelands Measure D oil revenue during a February 7 meeting as part of a quarterly budget adjustment that appropriated more than $17 million in “high priority” capital projects.
Under an agreement, SMG is required to ensure that the bidding process for the projects comply with city regulations and the resulting contracts follow state labor code, as well as the city’s insurance, bond and other requirements.
The improvements include creating a “loft-style” ballroom in the Long Beach Arena, typically used as a sports and entertainment venue, seating a total of 13,500 people. The two-phase project, expected to be completed as early as January, involves creating 45,000 square feet of event space by installing electronically operated curtains that drop from the ceiling, enclosing the floor area and covering views of the upper deck seating, while providing audio and visual equipment.
The new ballroom space is expected to provide “an intimate environment for dinners, banquets, conventions and concerts,” with seating for up to 5,500 people, doubling the convention center’s current ballroom capacity, according to convention center staff. Officials said the concept will still allow various entertainment events, such as Disney On Ice, to perform at the Arena.
The entire Arena renovation project, which will include replacing aging equipment and other modernizations, is expected to cost $6.5 million, with $5 million so far being covered by tidelands oil funds, according to convention center officials. “The improvements to the Sports Arena will provide attractive modernized event space needed to accommodate larger functions at the Center, and update the appearance and usefulness of the Long Beach Sports Arena,” stated a city staff report.
The funding also covers new improvements to the 825-seat Center Theater facilities for International City Theatre, or ICT, a regional non-profit, professional theatre company. The $375,000 project is expected to create a “safer and more inviting entryway and improve the facility’s street visibility, according to the staff report. “Upgrading this facility will help ensure its continued viability and provide service growth opportunities,” city staff said.
Both projects are part of the convention center’s overall $20 million “repositioning,” of major upgrades in the past three years to become a “model” for convention centers, being designed as a “big box” hotel. Other projects have included exterior landscaping upgrades and renovations, a new, fully functional solar generator known as a SolarFlora at the entryway to the convention center, which has new “seating pods,” carpeting and restrooms.
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