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Renovations headed to Civic Center, comes with $38 million pricetag

OKLAHOMA CITY-Plans to upgrade a well-known staple of Oklahoma City’s music scene are creating a bit of controversy among some city leaders.

Organizers say the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City has been in need of repairs for years.

Now, plans for a $38 million upgrade are turning heads.

One part of the plan focuses on the Freede Little Theatre, which would undergo serious renovations from top to bottom.

Experts say the seats, ceiling and everything in between would have to be gutted from the theatre to create an entirely modern performance space.

That renovation is estimated to cost around $15 million.

Moving on from the Freede Little Theatre, an $8 million upgrade would transform the Joel Levine Rehearsal Hall into a space that could be used for a multitude of purposes.

Jim Brown, the Civic Center’s general manager, said, “This would be a performance space if needed, a banquet or meeting space if needed or rehearsal if anyone else needed it.”

The upgrades would continue into the unfinished fifth floor where $12 million would transform the upper level into a new event space.

Another $2 million would rehab the lobby and relocate the box office.

While the music community is enthusiastic about the proposed changes, not everyone is on board with the plans.

Meg Salyer, a member of the Oklahoma City Council, said, “$38 million is a lot of money.”

Salyer says the city will need private money to pay for all the upgrades.

She said, “I don’t think it was ever envisioned the city would be footing the bill.”

As part of the first MAPS projects in 1998, the city spent $52 million revamping the main hall.

However, it ran out of money before the rest of the building could be upgraded.

Brown hopes that finally changes.

Brown said, “What it does is take it from the first MAPS and finish all the spaces to the same level.”

Because the finances haven’t been worked out, there is no timetable for when the work will begin or end.