A large crowd gathered Dec. 9 for the groundbreaking of an $84 million indoor live entertainment and performing arts venue in Sugar Land that is designed to establish the city as a destination location for culture and entertainment.
Officials from the city of Sugar Land, ACE Theatrical Group, Linbeck Group Construction Company, Martinez & Johnson Architecture as well as other area officials were in attendance to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for a project that has been seven years in the making.
"This project will not only change the landscape of Sugar Land, but the entire metropolitan region," said Mayor James Thompson. "We are building a facility unlike any other—one that will bring jobs, entertainment and, most importantly, tourism dollars that will support the economic strength of our region, making Sugar Land a destination for culture and entertainment in accordance with a long-held vision of our citizens and City Council."
The venue, which has temporarily been dubbed the ACE Center of Sugar Land, will have an approximate indoor seating capacity of 6,430. The new facility is designed to have the ability to create several venues in one building, and through its moveable walls, the performance center will be able to expand and contract to create settings from 3,300 people up to more than 6,400, said Doug Adolph, assistant communications director for Sugar Land. It is designed to host a broad range of performances, such as music and comedy acts and theatrical stage productions.
The city partnered with ACE Theatrical Group— an entrepreneurial, full-service, theatrical and development company—to design and build the facility. Linbeck Group Construction Company will construct the venue, which is expected to be complete sometime in fall 2016.
"Our partnership with ACE began in 2011 and we knew they would bring a level of expertise not only in live entertainment but the high standards of facility management that align with our city's goals for a first-class venue and live entertainment experience," Thompson said. "Today I can promise you that they certainly have not disappointed."
Based on voters' approval of the financing tools in 2008 and the city's goal to create a financially feasible, operationally self-sustaining facility, the indoor performance venue will be funded through a unique package of special funding sources, Sugar Land City Manager Allen Bogard said.
ACE made a $10-million equity contribution to the project. A portion of sales tax revenues that may only be used for economic development purposes and a portion of hotel occupancy tax funds that are restricted to tourism initiatives will be dedicated to the project. In addition, rent revenues generated by the facility and paid by ACE will also fund the performance venue, Bogard said.
Bogard said no general fund tax dollars will be spent on the project that is expected to create an iconic venue for the region and projected to provide an annual benefit to the community of $26.1 million over 30 years.
"We receive the benefit of a world-class live entertainment venue right here in our own backyard that will build on our efforts to provide culture and entertainment experiences that our citizens have told us are important," Bogard said. "We fully expect this venue will spur additional commercial and retail growth that further establishes Sugar Land as one of the strongest economies in the region."
The site for the ACE Center is on a portion of 38.5 acres of city property southeast of Hwy. 59 and University Boulevard in the center of Newland Communities' master-planned community Telfair. The venue will be framed by recreational venues, such as the Brazos River Park and a future outdoor festival site that can accommodate multiday music festivals and large-scale city events, Bogard said.
The live entertainment venue will anchor a 140-acre mixed-used development envisioned to include retail, office, residential, commercial and entertainment surrounding a public plaza that is planned to be a major focal point and gathering place for residents, visitors and employees, Bogard said.
"Studies show this venue will promote capital investment, create new jobs, enhance educational opportunities, increase tourism and create unique destination activities attracting local and regional visitors," Bogard said.