ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – A project nineteen years in the making finally saw completion on Friday, as Steinmetz Hall opened its doors at the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Orlando, Florida.
The new 1,650-seat hall, named after Orlando philanthropists Chuck and Margery Pabst Steinmetz marks the completion of the center, at least for the time being, according to the center’s chairman and founding donor, Jim Pugh. “We’re just getting started”, he said. “We set out to build one of the greatest performing arts centers in the world, one that could transform our region and serve as a model for the future, and I think we did exactly that.”
Pugh came on the project when Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was first elected in 2003. The total project required an investment of $613 million between donations, public money and private contributions.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is confident that “in 100 years, this facility will continue to be relevant. This is a tremendous asset for our community, and we don’t quite understand the true value of what we have here.”
Demings explained that the investment will return on the taxpayer’s dollars and through “additional developmental opportunities, and also from our local performers and artists that have the chance to not only hone their skills, but to learn from the best in the world.”
Kathy Ramsberger, president of the Dr. Philips Center, called Steinmetz Hall “one of the most ambitious performing arts development projects of the 21st century.” “It has an N1 rating, perfect acoustics. It is truly a world class venue.”
“It’s hard to be happier than I am today,” said Mayor Dyer. “I think this is the best performing center in the world and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.”
Dyer hoped the new building, along with other sites like Amway Center and Camping World Stadium, would help attract more tourists to the downtown area and expand Orlando’s appeal beyond the theme parks.
The upcoming slate of events in Steinmetz Hall start of Friday night with Rise & Shine, a showcase of 250 of Orlando’s artists in arts ranging from improv comedy to folk music. It also includes the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing with artists like Leon Bridges, Jennifer Hudson and Lyle Lovett. The full line-up of events can be seen in the venue’s site.