Sugar Land and Fort Bend ISD officials have been discussing the possibility of the city acquiring the Sugar Land Auditorium, located next to Lakeview Elementary School, from the district since 2016.
“In May 2016, FBISD approached the city about the potential donation of the Sugar Land Auditorium, recognizing that the facility is more in line with the city’s vision to promote culture,” said Lindsay Davis, Sugar Land cultural arts manager.
The auditorium is used, on average, eight times per year by Lakeview Elementary School, FBISD Chief Communications Officer Veronica Sopher said during a Dec. 18 board meeting.
“Essentially the campus is utilizing their building in a different way than it has been used in the past,” Sopher said. “The auditorium has never not been available to the campus.”
FBISD requests to use the space are given priority, followed by the city of Sugar Land and then the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation, Sopher said.
“Most of the city’s events and the cultural arts foundation events are in the evenings and on the weekend and are not on school hours,” Sopher said. “The other point of clarification that we were able to go back and follow up on at the November meeting was that the campus does all of their planning in an annual, cyclical process, so they know at the very beginning of the school year what events they’re going to be planning for.”
One stipulation the district would ask for includes providing the campus with 20 days it can use at the auditorium annually, Sopher said.
During a joint meeting between the FBISD board of trustees and Sugar Land City Council held in late November, Davis outlined some general acquisition principles, including a potential cost-sharing structure in which all parties equitably help finance the operation, management and capital improvements to be made to the building.
The guidelines also take into consideration a booking structure that increases community usage and overall usage for cultural arts and educational events, Davis said. Officials would need to plan to install on-site restrooms, establish prioritized usage of the auditorium, clarify steps to allow alcohol consumption, outline funding for building updates and provide access to parking.
Construction of the restrooms and a ticket office would cost approximately $600,000, Davis said.
“The cultural arts foundation has made a commitment of $200,000 at this point,” she said.
Council Member Amy Mitchell said she feels the auditorium should primarily provide use for educational purposes.
“This is an auditorium that is right next to a school,” Mitchell said. “The students should always have free access to it, and the teachers should have free access to it.”
The building—formerly known as Lakeview Auditorium—was a design highlight for the original school site in the early 1900s, according to Lakeview Elementary School’s website. Now the auditorium is a Texas historical site.
Discussions between the two entities are ongoing, and no final decision has been reached as of Jan. 29.