Faded red fold-out seats act as a backdrop throughout the arena while the dull buzz of dated lighting fixtures serve as the building’s soundtrack. The Southeast Missouri State University Show Me Center is 27 years old and many components of the building are showing signs of age.
On Feb. 28, the Board of Regents approved a proposal to do further research on improvements and upgrades that are needed for the Show Me Center. There was no official decision to carry out any upgrades.
Will Gorman, the Show Me Center’s director, said there are several components of the building to be updated that he feels will improve the quality of service for guests.
“It’s an exciting time,” Gorman said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s exciting with all the possibilities for the venue here because the Show Me Center has been a real big part of the community and it’s exciting to move forward and kind of get a fresh look.”
Many of the building’s aspects have outlived their lifespan. One of the top priorities on the list is replacing the retractable seats, which are about 15 years past their intended shelf life.
These seats have been used by millions of people because they are original to the building and are beginning to wear out. Hussey Seating, the company that made the building’s retractable seating, no longer produces that style of seat. Gorman said when parts fail, “we fix what we can and then we go to another part source. But we’ve kind of exhausted that.”
Gorman would like to see new seats that are wider, can seat more people, are more comfortable and may contain cup holders. He said a major concern is that these seats were installed before the American Disabilities Act was in place and do not contain handrails, which he hopes will be part of the addition. The seating of the prospective plan is estimated to cost $2.4 million.
The facility’s roof is 22 years old. Kathy Mangles is vice president of finance and administration at Southeast. At the February board meeting Mangels said the roof is beginning to crumble apart, causing water damage. The steel system that runs along the ceiling also needs improvement. Performances and events will have equipment hang from this system. The current system holds up to 70,000 pounds and many of the performances that come to the Show Me Center have too much equipment for the system to handle.
“When Trans Siberian Orchestra was here with a Christmas show three years in a row, every year they left more and more equipment on their truck,” Gorman said. “They couldn’t even bring in their whole production because we didn’t have the capability to hold that that much weight.”
Other components of the facility that are dated include the lighting fixtures, the light-bulb scoreboard and the sound system that was only intended for voice, not music. Each of these are original to the building as well. Gorman said he would like to see the lights replaced with energy efficient LED lighting and a digital scoreboard with video capabilities. These elements combined are estimated to cost $1.5 million.
“The thought process is a more updated system that can handle some music but also gives us the flexibility where if we wanted to drop a set of speakers and set them up for a John Legend or REO, Styx, we would have that capability, that flexibility to do that,” Gorman said.
Other minor aspects of the plan are bathrooms more suitable for handicap needs, an up-to-date elevator and some work on the badly damaged north side of the parking lot. The estimated cost for this portion of the upgrades is $2.15 million.
“The facility has been well maintained but unfortunately it’s time to do some upgrades,” Gorman said.
The project is estimated to cost $7 million total. Plans will be drawn up in the next few weeks by different architects and specialists. Further development will be proposed at the next regents board meeting in June.