Smith Performing Arts Center project gets city go-ahead

Construction on the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is tentatively scheduled to begin later this month now that the Las Vegas City Council has approved the necessary agreements and funding for the $245 million project.

A groundbreaking has been tentatively scheduled for May 26, said Myron Martin, Smith Center president.

Everyone involved waxed ecstatic today over the prospects of actually starting a project that's been almost 15 years in the making.

"This is going to be the epicenter of all that's good for years to come," said Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The schedule has the center opening in early 2012.

Construction money is coming from several sources: $105 million is coming from city of Las Vegas bonds backed by a tax on rental cars; the city's redevelopment agency is using $68 million in bond money toward the project as well, and $75 million is being put in by the Don W. Reynolds Foundation, which is also providing money for an operating endowment.

Plans for the center include a 2,050-seat multipurpose main hall, an education building that will house a 300-seat cabaret theater, and a 200-seat flexible studio theater for rehearsals, children’s theater and community events.

"To build anything in this environment is something," Martin said, referring to the recession. "To build something this significant for a community in this environment is really something."

Contact reporter Alan Choate at or 702-229-6435.