South Dakota State University officials are asking the
City of Brookings to pledge nearly $12 million in
secondpenny sales tax toward construction of the $30 million
Performing Arts Center Phase II.
University President David Chicoine brought the request to
the Brookings City Council on Tuesday evening, in support of
the school's previously submitted application for city
The SDSU appeal for one-time construction funds would help
pay for a new 850-seat proscenium theater on campus.
"The $11.8 million, that's the estimated cost in today's
dollars of most of the public space in the project. … This
really will enable the realization of the original vision
for the Performing Arts Center, including the recital hall,
the reception space, the theater and the studio theater,"
Chicoine explained. "To me, this is a really unique
opportunity for South Dakota State University and the
community of Brookings to join together to create a
comprehensive performing arts venue to provide a platform
for this community and our university, that without this
joint venture, we could not probably achieve."
The addition to the north side of the existing Performing
Arts Center has an overall estim a t e d price tag of $30.1
mill i o n . Officials suggest that beyond the city money,
university and private funds would pay for the remainder.
Includes recital hall
Besides a theater, features of the expansion plan include
accompanying support space for stage productions, a musical
recital space, instrumental and choral music rehearsal
rooms, individual practice and lesson music rooms, and
faculty offices for Music and Communications Studies and
The proscenium theater is meant to be a replacement for
Doner Auditorium. Seating capacity in the 1912 facility was
reduced in May 2008, when its balcony was closed due to
safety concerns. Doner used to accommodate an audience of
832, and now the available seating is down 39 percent, to
507. The facility also has limited accessibility for patrons
who have physical disabilities. Phase I: $10.2 million
The first phase of the Performing Arts Center was occupied
in 2003. With a total building price tag of $10.2 million,
the city paid about 60 percent of the bill. The community
provided $6 million toward construction of the 1,000-seat
Larson Memorial Concert Hall, 180-seat Fishback Studio
Theatre, Multipurpose Roberts Reception Hall, rehearsal
room/dance studio, and operational offices. Chicoine said
student and community support for a PAC expansion is strong.
Petitions circulated around campus and the city last spring
have 2,200 students signatures in support of the project, as
well as the names of 800 other Brookings residents.
The project would also have a great economic impact on the
area, he added. Would be a draw for city
Besides bringing to town even more theatre patrons, who
spend money at other Brookings businesses while they're
here, the expansion would allow the PAC to host more high
school events. High school events bring students here, as
well as their parents and families, Chicoine explained.
"Having the Performing Arts Center in its entirety would
just open up a whole other set of opportunities for us to
host high school performances , both on the music side and
the theater side. Right now there's just very few places in
the state you can do that. We would certainly be a very
attractive venue for that once we're able to put the theater
portion of the Performing Arts Center together," the
president told the city councilors.
"We believe it will be a significant addition not only to
South Dakota State University, but, we really believe, to
the community of Brookings, and we would appreciate your
consideration as we think about partnership to advance both
the university and the community going forward."
Construction start in 2012?
Once funding commitments are in place for a PAC expansion,
the project is subject to approval by the South Dakota Board
of Regents and the state Legislature. SDSU's application to
the city says that the project was designed so that
construction could start within weeks of legislative
approval, possibly in spring 2012. Under an aggressive
timeline, construction would take 18 months.
A best-case scenario suggests that Phase II could be open
for use by fall 2013, but "it is conceivable that
fundraising and construction may extend the completion of
the project into 2014."
City councilors will discuss the $11.8 million funding
request at their Aug. 11 work session.
Contact Jill Fier at