Lansing Mayor Andy Schor unveiled plans for a new $21 million, 2,000-seat concert hall called “The Ovation.”
If built, The Ovation would be located in downtown Lansing at the southwest corner of South Washington Square and Lenawee Street.
“For decades Lansing has needed a venue for concert and the performing arts,” Schor said in a statement. “I am extremely excited and proud that my team was able to make this a reality for our citizens here in Lansing and for the entire region. It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity to bring together concerts, community events, educational opportunities, speeches, comedy, and so many other live performances in one new, state-of-the-art venue.
Businesses in downtown Lansing are struggling due to COVID-19 restrictions. For example, the state’s work-from-home policy allows more thanworkers to work remotely, which has decimated businesses in the region.
“Bringing thousands of people to downtown Lansing for concerts and other events throughout the year will have an incredible impact on our small businesses here,” Schor said. “This incredible venue will be truly transformational for Lansing.”
The Ovation will include a two-story main stage and retail space, offices for the Lansing Public Media Center and other nonprofits, school groups, and a private party room with a capacity of 125 people standing. The third and fourth floors will include mezzanine office space.
If built with 40 studios, the project would cost around $21 million. Lansing would apply $2 million of taxpayer dollars and an additional $8 million from dedicated public access fees to the project. The city is seeking $11 million through private funding, grants and, if needed, a bank loan for lofts for living and working space.
The announcement follows a 2019 AMS Research & Planning study which revealed that 87% of residents surveyed were in favor of creating a new music venue.
The study claimed that the project would benefit Lansing via initial one-time construction, facilities, public spending, totaling $39 million in so-called “generated industrial activity” and $2.8 million in government revenue.
The study estimated annual hearing expenses at $5.3 million. Data added after the original study estimated that this venue would attract an annual attendance of 190,000 people and could attract 2.7 million people across 302 postcodes.
The project aims to fill a void in the live music scene after the Mac’s Bar – a historic venue where internationally acclaimed artists such as Chance the Rapper and Macklemore have performed – ended live music in 2021.
Some local concert venues only have a capacity of around 400 people, but Jackson Field, Spartan Stadium, Wharton Center, Fairchild Theater and other nearby venues offer larger capacities and have hosted celebrities such as G-Eazy, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and U2 at no additional cost to taxpayers.
City officials hope the new development will bring more young people to live, work and play in Lansing.
But John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, a nonprofit for transparent economic development policy, told The Center Square that economic impact forecasts “rarely take into account the reality” of how people spend entertainment money.
Mozena said if the venue wasn’t built, residents would likely spend their entertainment budget locally.
“It’s really rare that the creation of a new venue, whether it’s a concert hall or a sports stadium or anything like that, ends up being a noticeable benefit to the local economy because it doesn’t change the money people have in their pockets to spend on things like that,” Mozena said in a phone interview.
Schor’s office said several organizations, community groups and businesses have expressed interest in sponsoring the venue. Dymaxion Development is managing the construction of the project and Capitol Fundraising Associates is finalizing the fundraising.
Lansing is expected to innovate in 2022.
Originally published by The Center Square. It is republished here with permission.
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