The second phase of the Performing Arts Center, one of the biggest projects to be carried out at SDSU, is currently facing funding competition from other large-scale proposals from the city of Brookings. This could cause delays in the actual construction of the building.
In recent weeks, SDSU made a request for $11.8 million to the city council, which, if approved, would be used to fund construction of the proscenium theater, a proposed replacement for Doner Auditorium.
“(The) proscenium theater is the most crucial part of Phase II of the PAC,” said Mike Reger, vice president of administration. The new theater is projected to hold up to 850 seats, compared to 832 originally found in Doner Auditorium before its balcony was closed, leaving it with 507 seats.
Brookings Mayor Tim Reed said that while the expansion of the PAC would represent a significant asset to the community, there are other proposals competing for funding that need to be evaluated by the city.
“Phase II of the PAC is a high priority, but we have various proposals for the city; we have to see which have the best economic benefit,” Reed said.
Some of the projects competing with the PAC for city funding include expansion of the Swiftel Center and modifications to the Brookings Municipal Airport, Reed said.
“One critical item in our priority list is the airport. We are currently in violation of the runway protection zone,” Reed said.
SDSU’s request argues that Phase II of the PAC has interest to the city because it would bring people into town through performances and by attracting music or art camps, such as those from the All-State Choir and Orchestra, to perform at the facility.
“It is interesting because it brings people into Brookings. That is good economic development,” Reed said, adding that expanding the PAC could increase enrollment at SDSU. “Students are an economic driver to the city,” he said.
Matt Tollefson, president of the Students’ Association, believes that expansion of the PAC is a high priority for students, given that it will increase their cultural experience and add spaces for students to perform.
“It is not just about the theater; it would add a 200-seat recital hall, not just for our music majors but also for smaller, more intimate campus events like movie nights or Mr. SDSU,” Tollefson said.
Tollefson explained that Phase II of the PAC would constitute a “huge recruiting tool” for the university, since it would allow it to host more events and bring national productions to campus.
The figure of $11.8 million requested is not the total amount needed for building all of Phase II, which, according to Reger, consists of several structural components. Completion of the entire project would mean a new theater, offices for the music department, and performance spaces such as recital halls.
SDSU, through fundraising by the SDSU Foundation, would come up with the rest of the economic resources to be invested in Phase II.
“In an ideal world, we’d hope to have funding for the theater in 2 or 3 years,” Reger stated. He also clarified that the school does not foresee any tuition increases directed toward funding the PAC expansion.
“If students wanted to support the theater through student fee dollars, that could be a possibility, but there is no request for any student funding right now,” Reger said.
Steve Erpenbach, president and CEO at the SDSU Foundation said that Phase II of the PAC would greatly benefit SDSU and the community at large. According to Erpenbach, the proscenium theatre would be built to the east of the current facility, while the music department offices and recital halls would be added to the west. Expansion of the PAC is part of the $190 million fundraising campaign currently being carried out by the Foundation, which seeks to meet the financial needs for large-scale projects needed at the university as well as scholarships for students, Erpenbach said.
Reed noted that there is always the possibility for large expenditure requests to be referred to popular vote.
“Through a petition, the issue could be put on the ballot for people to decide and override what we say in the city council. When the time comes for the money to be bonded, that could be a possibility. In fact, that is actually how the first phase of the PAC came to fruition,” Reed said.