Downtown Wellington's historic venue will play host to John Michael Montgomery in April.
He's sold 18 million country music albums, tallied 15 number one hits, and won several country music awards, and now John Michael Montgomery is coming to Wellington to sing at the Memorial Auditorium.
April 5, 2013 marks the date for the grand re-opening of Wellington's historic, downtown building after it's been out of commission for the past few months. Renovations have been taking place to make the auditorium compliant with the American's with Disabilities Act. The project will be done ahead of schedule, and ready for the big show.
The City of Wellington, and Wellington Rec Commission have partnered with radio station KWLS US 107.9 to re-open the auditorium in style.
As far as the overall look of the auditorium, it's generally the same but with modifications in specific places to adhere to ADA regulations. In total, $648,407 has been spent for the renovations, half of which was paid with a grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
"What that encompassed was all this had to be floated up," said City Manager, Gus Collins, talking about the cement floor around the inside of the Auditorium. "It was about a foot drop, so everything is level now as you come in on all four doors." The most noticeable addition in the lobby area is a brand new elevator system. The lobby has gotten a complete make-over, along with the two offices on the North and South ends.
"The two offices, the Sumner County Historical and Genological Society and relocated from North to South, so they took a little bit bigger office – all brand new carpet, painting and everything for them," Collins explained. "The Veterans museum will now be in the North office." There have also been new bathrooms constructed on either side of the building that are ADA compliant, there is also a new wheelchair lift station on the South end inside of the Auditorium.
"Another thing we had to do to make this totally ADA compliant was put in sections for handicapped and wheelchairs," "Collins explained. "...That took out about 40 chairs, reducing our capacity, but feel comfortable in doing so." There was also a new electrical system installed to, one, bring the building up to code; and two, incase the City Council opts to install air conditioning in the building.
"The only thing that's climate controlled right now is the fitness center and the two office," Collins explained. If future concerts like the one on April 5 are to become a regular occurrence, air conditioning would go a long way towards bringing in big names. The new estaminets to put AC in the building are between 280,000, and 300,000 dollars.
"It's been discussed for many, many years, dating back to the late 70's," Collins said. Of course, crowd size for the April 5 concert will also play a big factor in the consideration for the air conditioning system.
The radio station that is partnering with the City and the WRC sees a lot of potential in the Memorial Auditorium.
"KWLS' listening area is from Ponca City to El Dorado, when you look at a map and where our station is, Wellington's in the Middle," said Joe Moralez, with KWLS. "[Memorial Auditorium] is a central hub that we see a lot of opportunities to put on future shows...you couldn't ask for a better name like John Michael Montgomery to put on the first show." Ticket's will cost $20 the night of the show, advanced tickets will be sold around town leading up to the event for $10. A list of ticket vendors will be released this week.
"We are very excited about the venue and the upgrades and what the future holds..." Moralez said.