The curtain has been raised on $1.8 million worth of improvements at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
There is new theatrical lighting with LED bulbs and a state-of-the-art digital sound system.
The dressing rooms have been renovated and other improvements made inside the historic Greek Revival performing arts venue.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the majestic hall is ready for whenever the state lifts the COVID restrictions on indoor live performances.
" We are going to book bigger and better shows here," said Sarno after taking a tour of the building to see, and hear, the upgrades.
Live entertainment venues like Symphony Hall have been closed in Massachusetts since last March. The city took advantage of the down time to do the improvement project.
Patrick Sullivan, the city’s director of facilities, said the sound system had not been upgraded since the 1970’s. Problems with the lighting and sound often required performers to bring their own equipment and deterred some touring shows from booking the hall.
"I think it is going to be a great venue for theater groups and so forth to book this," said Sullivan.
Rather than hire a general contractor to do the work, the city used its own staff of laborers and local tradespeople. Inmates from a work release program at the Hampden County Jail did some of the painting.
"It was really a group effort of everyone working together to make this possible and we saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing it that way," said Sullivan.
The work also included a replacement Wi-Fi network, a new assisted-listening device system, and security upgrades, according to the city. Two custom dry bars for selling refreshments were built.
The project was paid for entirely with city funds.
T.J. Plante, the city’s Chief Administration and Finance Officer, said he thinks there will be a good return on the $1.8 million investment.
"The whole purpose for me is economic development," said Plante. "Getting people downtown...experience restaurants, bars, whatever, have a show, hit MGM if they want to. Just have a really good experience in Springfield."
Symphony Hall is home to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. The building is also used for high school graduations and the annual enshrinement ceremony of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2019, the city signed a five-year contract with MGM Springfield to manage Symphony Hall. The casino host community agreement calls for MGM to produce four shows per year at Symphony Hall.