City Beat

This historic Sacramento theater will get an $11 million facelift

Sacramento’s historic Memorial Auditorium is about to get another run in the spotlight.

The City Council on Tuesday approved an $11 million renovation of the theater so it can host Broadway plays, ballet performances and other events while the Community Center Theater undergoes its own remodeling.

Work at Memorial Auditorium, which seats 3,850, will start next month, after the high school graduation season, and will finish next May. The plans call for temporary bathrooms outside the building and a covered loading dock. Inside, the auditorium will get enhanced acoustics, lighting and seating.

Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the central city, said the renovation would again make the auditorium “a great place for music and art.”

“By investing in Memorial Auditorium’s sound, lighting and bathrooms, we are not only ensuring it’ll be able to host Broadway, the ballet and the philharmonic, but that we will return the building to its former glory when The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys played there,” Hansen said.

The stately building at 15th and J streets opened in February 1927 and is listed on the National Historic Register. It closed in 1986 due to concerns about its earthquake safety and reopened a decade later after a renovation.

The auditorium has a long — and colorful — history. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was electrocuted during a show there in 1965. Thousands of Sacramento high school students have walked the stage at graduations, and artists like the Doobie Brothers, the Moody Blues, Duran Duran and Melissa Etheridge have performed at the theater.

The renovation of the Community Center Theater is scheduled to begin early next year. The City Council is expected to hear an update on that project next month and could approve its financing this fall.

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