LUBBOCK, TEXAS–A movement to revitalize downtown Lubbock received momentum recently when the Lubbock Entertainment Performing Arts Association (LEPAA) announced it had raised over $47 million towards a new performing arts center in Lubbock. The announcement also means that the City of Lubbock will begin to transfer land downtown to LEPAA.
The Lubbock City Council had previously voted to transfer the land where the now abandoned Department of Public Safety Building sits. The Lubbock City Council also pledged to spend $300,000 to tear down the building after LEPAA raised a total of $45 million dollars, according to the announcement.
LEPAA will continue to raise money with a goal of $85 million for construction costs and a $30 million endowment for operating expenses, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson took part in the announcement by presenting the organization with a personal check written for $5,000 dollars.
LEPAA has stressed from the beginning that they want to raise all the money privately instead of having taxpayers foot the bill. Some Lubbock citizens have expressed concern that if the performing arts center were to fail, taxpayers would take over the operating expenses. LEPAA Board Chairman Tim Collins has stated previously that they are taking precautions to prevent that from happening.
The performing arts center’s quick success stands in stark contrast to another project seeking private money in Lubbock. The College Baseball Hall of Fame has been attempting to raise $13 million dollars for a number of years in order to build a museum and baseball field. The first class of the College Baseball Hall of Fame was announced in 2006, but other than induction announcements, news about the project has been minimal. As of its last official announcement, the College Baseball Hall of Fame had only raised $7 million. That figure was reached in January of 2013 when the Moody Foundation awarded the project a $5 million grant, according to museum organizers.
Many in Texas would not think that Lubbock would put the arts ahead of sports, but the fundraising and organizational contrasts are seemingly clear. In an era where bond elections are sent to voters to pay for projects like a performing arts center, the Lubbock Entertainment Performing Arts Association is bucking that trend for now.
Chad Hasty is the host of the Chad Hasty Show on KFYO-AM Lubbock. Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadyHastyRadio