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Mith242

Walton Arts Center Location

Where do you think the WAC should be located?  

43 members have voted

  1. 1. Where do you think the WAC should be located?

    • Same location, just expand as much as possible.
      31
    • Different location, but still on/near Dickson St
      8
    • Another location somewhere in Fayetteville
      1
    • Somewhere else in NWA outside of Fayetteville
      3


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I thought I would switch the discussion back to the topic that more directly deals with the WAC location debate.

The newspaper article that reports the Walton Family Foundation's letter to the Walton Arts Center confirms what most suspected all along- the lead donor will be the Waltons and the farce of a location selection process has been exposed. The pretense of impartiality and a fair chance to compete for the expansion location was simply to save face. It is ironic that now that they are being honest about their position they are also saying that the expansion plans need to be scaled back. It makes one think that one of the reasons for the more expensive plan was to discourage anyone that wanted the expansion in Fayetteville.

The expansion will not be a similar size facilty to the one in Fayetteville. One of the primary reasons for the expansion is the larger main hall that can accommodate audiences in 2500- 3000 seat range. It will be the premier performing arts center for the metro at the expense of the present facilty. Any reduction in the scale of the plan will be in the other smaller spaces and the asethetics. There is no practical way to expand Baum Walker Hall at the present facility- the expense would be too great. It would essentially have to be demolished and rebuilt.

The claim by the WAC officals that the present facilty will still receive the same quality programing it does now is false. Even though the WAC has nonprofit status it still has to make sound business decisions. Their desire to keep control of the present facilty is an example of a sound business decision- by keeping that control they eliminate competition for ticket buyers and financial support. When they have a big event coming to the new facilty you can be sure they will not schedule anything in Fayetteville that might diminish tickets sales for it. The WAC officials can make all the assurances they want now in order to get Fayetteville let them stay but without a contractual obligation to schedule quality programing on par with the new facility those kind words mean nothing. Of course, a contract ensuring parity of programing would be next to impossible to write- who would make the very subjective determination on what is equal?

I'm still very interested in what the City of Fayetteville's location proposal consists of. The Foundation may be letting Mayor Jordan again avoid taking a controversial position on the location but the decision on letting the WAC keep control of the present facility will still have to be made. To let an organization that would do great harm to the city to continue to operate the performing arts center that is the heart of the entertainment district would be to abandon the city much as that organization will do. He needs to put as much energy in to making plans for a post-WAC Fayetteville as he is in declaring that he won't give up on the expansion being in town.

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The expansion will not be a similar size facilty to the one in Fayetteville. One of the primary reasons for the expansion is the larger main hall that can accommodate audiences in 2500- 3000 seat range. It will be the premier performing arts center for the metro at the expense of the present facilty. Any reduction in the scale of the plan will be in the other smaller spaces and the asethetics. There is no practical way to expand Baum Walker Hall at the present facility- the expense would be too great. It would essentially have to be demolished and rebuilt.

A study released in October 2008 called for a $180 million expansion to include a 2,200-seat theater, a 600-seat multiuse space and a 100-seat black box studio.

In Tuesday’s letter, however, the foundation said the “expansion as currently proposed is simply too large in terms of scope and cost.” The foundation suggested putting off a decision on the size of the project so it can be examined within the “context of the current economic climate and the future potential impact of other Northwest Arkansas cultural amenities now being planned or underway.”

I hardly doubt the new theater will be more than 2,200 seats.

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I hardly doubt the new theater will be more than 2,200 seats.

The Crystal Bridges master plan calls for a 3,000 seat hall. The reason for wanting a larger main hall is to sell more tickets to the most popular shows and to have a larger stage for the shows themselves. I don't think seating in the main hall is where the scaling back will occur. At this point I don't put much stock in the study as it all seems to be for show anyway.

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The Crystal Bridges master plan calls for a 3,000 seat hall. The reason for wanting a larger main hall is to sell more tickets to the most popular shows and to have a larger stage for the shows themselves. I don't think seating in the main hall is where the scaling back will occur. At this point I don't put much stock in the study as it all seems to be for show anyway.

Yeah as you said it's hard to much into all of this. I don't really see how the WAC could really go against the Walton Foundation who is their biggest backer. I suppose maybe Rogers thought it still had a slight chance but it really seems as if Bentonville is really the only location being seriously considered. While I'm not surprised that the Walton Foundation wants the facility in Bentonville. I am slightly surprised they went about the whole thing so publicly. I'm not sure what they really gain out of all of this by making a big public event out of it. All they had to do was have a meeting with WAC members and tell them the same thing. The Walton Foundation can of course choose wherever they want to put their funding. But the more I think about how this has all played out the more of a bad taste this is leaving. I wasn't really inclined to want to keep supporting the WAC already and all this has done is basically made me even more inclined to ever have anything to do with them.

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Totally agree! I dont see this ending well. It is going to piss off a lot of people in Fayetteville/Washington county, but what do you do when your biggest donor is Walton foundation. Not that Benton County doesn't deserve a world class performing arts center, They are just already getting the fine arts center. So why not leave Fine arts in Benton County and performing arts in Washington.

I wounder who is going to take over the old one? Im sure it could still be used for a lot of good.

Yeah as you said it's hard to much into all of this. I don't really see how the WAC could really go against the Walton Foundation who is their biggest backer. I suppose maybe Rogers thought it still had a slight chance but it really seems as if Bentonville is really the only location being seriously considered. While I'm not surprised that the Walton Foundation wants the facility in Bentonville. I am slightly surprised they went about the whole thing so publicly. I'm not sure what they really gain out of all of this by making a big public event out of it. All they had to do was have a meeting with WAC members and tell them the same thing. The Walton Foundation can of course choose wherever they want to put their funding. But the more I think about how this has all played out the more of a bad taste this is leaving. I wasn't really inclined to want to keep supporting the WAC already and all this has done is basically made me even more inclined to ever have anything to do with them.

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Totally agree! I dont see this ending well. It is going to piss off a lot of people in Fayetteville/Washington county, but what do you do when your biggest donor is Walton foundation. Not that Benton County doesn't deserve a world class performing arts center, They are just already getting the fine arts center. So why not leave Fine arts in Benton County and performing arts in Washington.

I wounder who is going to take over the old one? Im sure it could still be used for a lot of good.

Yeah as you said. I can understand the Walton Foundation feeling that way. But there was no reason for them to go public like this. They could have easily told the WAC members privately. The thing is is that they also want to keep the current facility running in Fayetteville as well. But the general feeling is that Fayetteville would be relegated to all the smaller events while the new larger facility in Bentonville gets all the headline events. Which in that case there's the feeling in Fayetteville that Fayetteville should take over the facility instead.

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Building a 3,000 seat Performing arts theater in NWA would be idiotic to say the least. Metro area's three times the size of NWA don't even have Performing Theaters that big. When you have a theater with 3,000 seats you wont make as much money as if you had a theater with say 2,300 seats. Why you may ask? Well, it's pretty simple... Performing arts theaters are completely different than an arena or amphitheater as far as getting as many people as you can into the venue. With Theaters there is a much smaller niche, and when you have a theater that is 3,000 seats large in NWA your only going to get one or two shows out of the touring broadway plays when they come there. Right now the WAC currently has anywhere from 6-12 shows when plays like Les Miserables or 52nd Street play there, resulting in the Theater being rented out for a long time. Hearing people say that "NWA needs a theater with 2,500-3,000 seats just to survive" is one of the funniest thigs I heard in a while. What.. like the metro will outgrow a 3,000 seat theater in 5 years???lol Give me a freak'n break.

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Building a 3,000 seat Performing arts theater in NWA would be idiotic to say the least. Metro area's three times the size of NWA don't even have Performing Theaters that big. When you have a theater with 3,000 seats you wont make as much money as if you had a theater with say 2,300 seats. Why you may ask? Well, it's pretty simple... Performing arts theaters are completely different than an arena or amphitheater as far as getting as many people as you can into the venue. With Theaters there is a much smaller niche, and when you have a theater that is 3,000 seats large in NWA your only going to get one or two shows out of the touring broadway plays when they come there. Right now the WAC currently has anywhere from 6-12 shows when plays like Les Miserables or 52nd Street play there, resulting in the Theater being rented out for a long time. Hearing people say that "NWA needs a theater with 2,500-3,000 seats just to survive" is one of the funniest thigs I heard in a while. What.. like the metro will outgrow a 3,000 seat theater in 5 years???lol Give me a freak'n break.

Hmmm...seems a bit harsh. Granted 3,000 seats is a lot and as you mentioned you don't tend to see it in but in much larger metros. But the one thing you could say though is how many metros are going to have a art museum of this caliber? I'm not sure of the time frame of this 3,000 seat theater that Crystal Bridges has in their master plans. I guess I haven't seen much on it yet. Most of what I've seen on Crystal Bridges focuses more on the actual art space rather than any performing art space.

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Building a 3,000 seat Performing arts theater in NWA would be idiotic to say the least. Metro area's three times the size of NWA don't even have Performing Theaters that big. When you have a theater with 3,000 seats you wont make as much money as if you had a theater with say 2,300 seats. Why you may ask? Well, it's pretty simple... Performing arts theaters are completely different than an arena or amphitheater as far as getting as many people as you can into the venue. With Theaters there is a much smaller niche, and when you have a theater that is 3,000 seats large in NWA your only going to get one or two shows out of the touring broadway plays when they come there. Right now the WAC currently has anywhere from 6-12 shows when plays like Les Miserables or 52nd Street play there, resulting in the Theater being rented out for a long time. Hearing people say that "NWA needs a theater with 2,500-3,000 seats just to survive" is one of the funniest thigs I heard in a while. What.. like the metro will outgrow a 3,000 seat theater in 5 years???lol Give me a freak'n break.

I agree with you 100%! Most of the theaters on Broadway range anywhere from 500 to 2000 seats! The differance is in ticket price. When I saw South Pacific in NY the tickets started at $75, here because of the Waltons and P&G subsidising the cost, tickets started at $40.

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The Crystal Bridges master plan calls for a 3,000 seat hall. The reason for wanting a larger main hall is to sell more tickets to the most popular shows and to have a larger stage for the shows themselves. I don't think seating in the main hall is where the scaling back will occur. At this point I don't put much stock in the study as it all seems to be for show anyway.

This is not entirely accurate. Crystal Bridges will have a gathering space for special events that can seat up to 300 people when needed but it will not be a dedicated performance hall.

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This is not entirely accurate. Crystal Bridges will have a gathering space for special events that can seat up to 300 people when needed but it will not be a dedicated performance hall.

When plans for Crystal Bridges were announced several years ago it was reported in the local media that a master plan for the entire 100 acre site included a 3,000 seat theater. I have searched the Crystal Bridges website for that same information but have never been able to find it. I also remember a plan for a 300 seat outdoors performance space that doesn't appear on the site. A 250 auditorium plan does appear. I believe I have a newspaper article about the plan for a 3,000 seat theater saved and will search for it to post if I can find it. Thank you for your contribution to the topic.

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This is not entirely accurate. Crystal Bridges will have a gathering space for special events that can seat up to 300 people when needed but it will not be a dedicated performance hall.

Thanks for the correction and welcome to the forum. :D

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Well...after unsuccessfully looking through two storage containers of newspaper clippings about development news in NWA I give up on the Crystal Bridges article. The point is that the Crystal Bridges campus is almost certainly where the expansion will be built unless the Fayetteville proposal somehow is chosen. The expansion will certainly be much larger than the current facility whether it is 2,200 or 3,000 seats.

It would be nice to have access to the inner workings of the parties involved and have the exact details but few people have that access. The decision is obviously more important to those concerned about the Fayetteville community and the impact it will have on the city. No doubt there are people who would rather it be discussed behind closed doors and with little public input but I have seen Fayetteville lose too much to the north end of the metro to be quiet. We have a Buy Fayetteville campaign- this fits right in with that sentiment.

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There was an interesting editorial in the paper today. It suggested the facility be built on the U of A campus. Putting the facility at the corner of Maple and Razorback north of the stadium. Then it was suggested a parking garage be built just west of the stadium. During the day the parking garage could be used by students or sports fans. While at night utilized by patrons of the arts center. Overall it was an interesting idea. One I hadn't really ever considered. I'm not sure if it would work. It neglected the fact that the WAC wants easy access from I-540. Maybe if it was further south towards MLK you could use the easy access to I-540 argument. It would also be a bit odd in that I think everyone has always assumed an entertainment district would pop up around the new facility like what has happened at Dickson St. Having it on campus doesn't make that as easy to happen. But still an interesting idea that maybe the city of Fayetteville should look more into. Just to try to cover as many options as possible.

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I think I read that same piece- it was by Julian Archer ,who, in the interest of full disclosure, is the proprietor of Pratt Place Inn located a few blocks west of the stadium. It is an interesting idea but, like you, I have my doubts about its feasibilty although for a different reason. I don't think the logistics of having the PAC immediately in the stadium area will work. There would be too much overlap between athletic events and PAC events for the traffic and parking situation to work. Trying to schedule around football, basketball and all the other athletic events would limit what events could be held at the PAC.

His analysis of the proposed use of the current WAC lot for the expansion isn't quite true. The plan isn't to build one parking deck to serve all Dickson Street uses but two decks. One would be adjacent to the present facilty and the other on the north side of Dickson. That has always been the plan. By building the deck adjacent to the WAC both underground and several levels up the need to take property from the residential area isn't there.

Something that I haven't seen reported is whether or not the various location proposals will all be made public. The August 2nd deadline is rapidly approaching and the WAC Board's process of choosing a plan hasn't been made public- just that it will come after the deadline. Surely we will be able to compare the plans for ourselves- transparency in the process seems essential for public suport of the choice.

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I think I read that same piece- it was by Julian Archer ,who, in the interest of full disclosure, is the proprietor of Pratt Place Inn located a few blocks west of the stadium. It is an interesting idea but, like you, I have my doubts about its feasibilty although for a different reason. I don't think the logistics of having the PAC immediately in the stadium area will work. There would be too much overlap between athletic events and PAC events for the traffic and parking situation to work. Trying to schedule around football, basketball and all the other athletic events would limit what events could be held at the PAC.

His analysis of the proposed use of the current WAC lot for the expansion isn't quite true. The plan isn't to build one parking deck to serve all Dickson Street uses but two decks. One would be adjacent to the present facilty and the other on the north side of Dickson. That has always been the plan. By building the deck adjacent to the WAC both underground and several levels up the need to take property from the residential area isn't there.

The idea of locating the WAC expansion on university property does bring up some other scenarios though. What about using Lot 56? It has great access to I540 and plenty of room for the buildings. A parking deck on the lot just north of the stadium could serve those who usually park in Lot 56- a lot of football fans would love the idea of not having to walk up the hill and back.

Something that I haven't seen reported is whether or not the various location proposals will all be made public. The August 2nd deadline is rapidly approaching and the WAC Board's process of choosing a plan hasn't been made public- just that it will come after the deadline. Surely we will be able to compare the plans for ourselves- transparency in the process seems essential for public suport of the choice.

WAC will post all the locations being considered on their website after the submission deadline passes. We will know who is interested in donating their property soon.

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Thanks for the links. :thumbsup: It will take me a bit before I have a chance to go through it all. Fayetteville's official proposal surprised me a bit in that overall if hasn't changed much. Although adding the option of using the university's facilities was a good idea. But I don't know if the rest of Fayetteville's plan will address enough of the WAC's 'concerns'. I'm guessing eventually we'll see the more official proposals the other cities have rather than just the official form.

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Make sure you read the "additional materials" for the other cities- all have submitted a more comprehensive plan than just the form. I was pleased with Fayetteville's plan, but not surprised by it, nor do I think the WAC selection committee will be either, but it's still a very attractive proposal. Springdale's was also pretty nice, despite my feelings that the location isn't as unique or interesting as the Bentonville or Fayetteville proposal, it would still provide a nice setting (once the vision takes hold and development begins) for the center. I was underwhelmed with Rogers proposal. Bentonville's proposal was interesting and similar to what I expected, but not near as in depth or specific as Fayetteville's as far as a singular site and potential layouts went. They played the Wal-Mart/Sam Walton card heavily and put an unexpected amount of emphasis on the 21c hotel to be built in downtown Bentonville. While an impressive hotel and an achievement for the city (or rather, what Alice Walton's generosity is allowing the city to achieve with Crystal Bridges), it seems like they placed a lot of weight on a hotel in their proposal when it seems to be a factor of only slight importance in site selection when compared with other issues. I really do feel Fayetteville had the best formed and drafted proposal, and I liked the letter of support and the list of names they threw behind the proposal, but I fear that Bentonville will still be selected just because that's what a few people in the leadership of the WAC seem to have their heart set on. I know this is a long way out, but I feel they will probably end up making a choice that ends up contributing far less to the region (not to mention their marketability and appeal) than a same-site expansion in Fayetteville would offer, particularly with the free land and support that the UofA and the city are offering.

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Well...lots of information to take in in a short period of time. After scanning through it my first impression is that the Fayetteville proposal is by far the most compelling. It makes the best argument for the new facilty to be located right at that spot and gives more concrete ideas of what could be done. If this is actually a fair and impartial decision making process the new facility will indeed be an expansion of the current facility. On the other hand, if the decision has already been made long ago as it seems, the Bentonville proposal will be chosen. And, if the decision is made to build in Benton County the Fayetteville proposal should be used as a blueprint for the future Fayetteville Performing Arts Center improvements.

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Yeah I do like Fayetteville's plan. I guess I was just surprised because I thought they might change things up a bit with the WAC wanting a facility closer to I-540 and so on. But they get a lot in that lot without even having to alter the current parking lot. I was impressed with that. Springdale's plan wasn't bad. Unfortunately for them I don't think they have much of a shot. But if they were able to manage to somehow pull it off, that section of Springdale would have a lot of potential. Bentonville's plan was okay, They didn't seem to have a whole lot on the table in my opinion. They more or less seem to be relying on Crystal Bridges and the Waltons to land them the location. Rogers was pretty disappointing. They really seemed like they just gave up. As expected it's pretty much down to Bentonville and Fayetteville. Despite all the talk that it's a wide open race. Having the whole facility all located in one spot would be pretty impressive. But I'm not going to get my hopes up. I still think the WAC would like the idea of having a facility in Benton County as well. And with the Walton Foundation making it clear where it's support is, I still have to think Bentonville will most likely get it. Seems like someone from Fayetteville/Washington County would have to be able to step up and provide some financial help if the Waltons do as promise and cut back if Bentonville isn't picked.

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After reading through the City of Fayetteville/UA and Bentonville/Bella Vista CC proposals and skimming through the other proposals it is clear who has put the most effort into their work. The Fayetteville proposal is thorough, professional and specific yet flexible. It addresses each of the criteria with well thought out responses and indicates how much the new facility and city need each other. There are many good points in the proposal but some stood out more than others.

The Fayetteville team managed to take what has been portrayed as a negative (location not on I540) and turn it into a positive. By emphasizng the many routes into and out of the area and pledging to make improvements to the two main routes the I540 proximity criteria has been addressed. By demonstrating how the University’s proximity is important through its arts programs and instructors plus the impact of the students the proposal shows why Fayetteville has assets that can’t be matched. By reciting the list of other cultural assets and entertainment establishments in the area it shows that the synergy important to the WAC’s success is here at this location now and not a dream that might happen someday. It has been questioned if Fayetteville had the political will to come together and develop a winning proposal; it is clear that it does if a truly impartial decision is made.

The other proposals ranged from sincere attempts to woo the center to what seemed like real estate sales pitches. The Bentonville/Bella Vista proposal is a fluff piece touting dreams for the future, the Walmart Visitors Center and the new hotel. It had little of substance as to why the new facilty would be better there.

Because of the study paid for by the WAC listing the present location and the Crystal Bridges location as the top choices it is hard to believe that one of them won’t be chosen. The criteria put out since then and the Walton Family Foundation letter recently published reinforce that belief. I think it is clear that in the end funding, both public and private, will be what drives the choice if it hasn’t already been made. It is also clear that the WAC’s success so far as been in large part due to its location in Fayetteville and its continued success would be ensured by building the new facility here. If the decision is to build elsewhere after overwhelming evidence that the present location is best then the proposal should be used as a blueprint for a post-WAC Fayetteville.

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My one concern with the Fayetteville proposal is about the rent that would be generated by the outbuildings of the parking decks. Would that go to the city or the WAC?

Other than that it appears to be a great proposal. One that is, quite frankly, better than what I expected. One of the great things about it is that much of the total "cost" is already set up because of projects that are already planned and will benefit the city much more than just the WAC. (see infrastructure/540 interchanges) In addition to that, much more of the "cost" is for land that is not being used for income by the city.

If the WAC does choose Fayetteville, it might cause some complications with Bikes, Blues, BBQ though. Especially if one of the alternate placement plans is desired.

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My one concern with the Fayetteville proposal is about the rent that would be generated by the outbuildings of the parking decks. Would that go to the city or the WAC?

Other than that it appears to be a great proposal. One that is, quite frankly, better than what I expected. One of the great things about it is that much of the total "cost" is already set up because of projects that are already planned and will benefit the city much more than just the WAC. (see infrastructure/540 interchanges) In addition to that, much more of the "cost" is for land that is not being used for income by the city.

If the WAC does choose Fayetteville, it might cause some complications with Bikes, Blues, BBQ though. Especially if one of the alternate placement plans is desired.

Yeah I will say Fayetteville easily went a step above the other cities. No one else had such a comprehensive and detailed plan as Fayetteville. It is true that this expanded facility could cause problems for other things. But I think most people in Fayetteville would take it. While there certainly are fans of BBB in Fayetteville there's also clearly a rather vocal group that just don't like it at all. If I had to choose one or the other I'd have to go with the expanded WAC. But I still think something could be worked out with BBB even if Fayetteville does somehow land the future WAC facility.

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