Gov. Mike Beebe, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and others used crow bars Tuesday to rip up part of the stage at Little Rock’s historic Robinson Center Music Hall, formally signifying the start of renovations to the venue.
The $68 million project will modernize the facility, which was built in 1939. The work will improve its acoustics and seating, while enabling it to host any touring Broadway production.
Stodola said it has taken a lot of work to get to this point.
“The acoustical engineers, the theater engineers, everybody that’s had a hand in this, to really talk about how we can take and basically keep the outside envelope and the historic lobby," he said, "and transform this into a totally new experience.”
The project is being paid for through a voter-approved two percent tourism tax.
During the brief ceremony in front of about a hundred people, including many community leaders, Beebe said it will further enhance the downtown area.
“This is another step toward making it even better. And yeah, we’re going to miss for 26 months all the activity that would go on here, but the final result when it’s all said and done will make this a viable arena for entertainment and presentations for the rest of our lifetimes,” Beebe said.
Plans also call for building a convention of visitors center on top of the structure, facing the Arkansas River.