Rio Nuevo wants to showcase the $7.8 million face-lift it bought for the Tucson Convention Center.
So it’s planning to hire the Beach Boys to headline a grand reopening bash after TCC renovations wrap up in December.
The board authorized last week paying the group $100,000 to play the event on January 3.
“We wanted to have some type of opening to let people in and see what we’ve done,” said Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker. “So we said let’s do a concert to get people back in to hear the sound, see the lights, sit in the new seats.”
McCusker said it was important to keep ticket prices low so as many people as possible could attend.
“Here’s a chance to see a hall-of-fame act for 25 bucks,” he said.
Work began on the TCC last March to replace seats, upgrade acoustics, renovate bathrooms and concession stands and add video scoreboards, among other improvements, to make a visit to the long-neglected arena a little more pleasant for patrons.
While the renovation is modest compared to the $100 million a past audit determined was necessary to pump into the TCC if it wants to compete nationally again, McCusker said the public will appreciate the changes.
The concert isn’t designed to make money, but to demonstrate, not only to Tucsonans, but the entertainment industry as well, that the TCC has new life, McCusker said.
“We’ll invite some talent managers, booking agents, and those kind of people to showcase it,” he said.
In other Rio Nuevo news, the board renewed former state legislator and former Rio Nuevo board member Jonathan Paton’s contract to lobby for the district at the state legislature.
Rio Nuevo will pay Paton $65,000 for his services, which is the same as his last contract.
The board was pleased with Paton’s performance last session and credited him for the state lifting its mandate that Rio Nuevo spend money on a hotel and convention center before other projects.
“He did an extraordinary job for us, McCusker said. “Our bill passed without a single “no” vote and he had a lot to do with that.”
The board also injected up to $300,000 into completing the Mission Gardens project, a replica of a historic agricultural area along the Santa Cruz River that once provided fruit and vegetables to early residents.
Funding the project was part of the settlement agreement Rio Nuevo made with the city back in 2013.
Under the agreement, the district will allocate up to $1.1 million to finish one of the Rio Nuevo projects included on the 1999 ballot.