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S.L. County Mayor Jenny Wilson weighs in on Abravanel Hall. Here’s what she said.

The future of the cherished 45-year-old music venue is up in the air as downtown Salt Lake City eyes a massive transformation for a sports and entertainment district.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mike Maughan of Smith Entertainment Group takes notes, listening to the Salt Lake City Council speak on the proposed downtown sports and entertainment district on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. He is flanked by Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, left, and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson says she wants Abravanel Hall to “remain in its present form” after a proposal to overhaul downtown Salt Lake City with a sports and entertainment district stoked fears about the future of the storied venue.

“I appreciate the extensive amount of input,” Wilson said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon, “regarding the future of Abravanel Hall as a sports, entertainment, culture, and convention district is envisioned in downtown Salt Lake City.”

The county owns and operates the 45-year-old concert hall.

“As mayor of Salt Lake County, I am working diligently on a re-imagined downtown and a district design that allows Abravanel Hall to remain in its present form,” the mayor said, “and value the feedback from the community.”

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith wants to transform two blocks east of the Delta Center into a year-round entertainment hub that would support both the Jazz and his newly acquired National Hockey League team.

The uncertain future of Abravanel Hall, home to the Utah Symphony, led to public outcry and the creation of an online petition that has since garnered more than 33,000 signatures.

Wilson issued a joint statement last week with the symphony and Smith Entertainment Group, the organization pushing for the downtown sports district, saying planning for the area was in its earliest phases and no decision had been made on the concert hall.

Costs to upgrade the hall, according to the statement, were estimated “in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“The conversations are in the very early stages, yet there is a clear commitment to providing a world-class concert hall that continues to build upon the Utah Symphony’s legacy and that of its legendary music director, Maurice Abravanel,” the statement said. “To that end, we need to weigh all factors, including the high cost of a renovation alongside the benefits of rebuilding.”

Later that day, Mike Maughan of Smith Entertainment Group said he wanted the venue to stay “on-site,” adding that it could be incorporated into the district as either a rebuilt or renovated concert hall.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Abrvanel Hall is pictured on Friday, May 10, 2024.

County Council member Jim Bradley, a vocal opponent of leveling Abravanel Hall, said those renovation costs were estimated to be between $200 million and $300 million, but those expenses would not need to be paid all at once.

He had a simple initial response to Wilson’s Tuesday statement.

“Well,” he said, “very good.”

Abravanel Hall, he added, is a showcase venue with acoustics that would be tough to replicate, and he is proud of the mayor for speaking in support of keeping the facility within the proposed district.

“We’ve got a beautiful hall that’s been there for 40-plus years,” he said. “It would be an absolute tragedy to tear that down.”

In a Wednesday statement, Steve Brosvik, president and CEO of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, said his organization is eager to move forward with Wilson and other leaders to ensure artists and the community enjoy “the highest-quality concert hall” downtown.

He did not comment specifically on Wilson’s calls for keeping Abravanel Hall in its current form.

“It has been truly encouraging to see an outpouring of support for Maurice Abravanel Hall these past two weeks,” he said. “Our spectacular home venue is beloved to our organization and to our community — and what makes the hall truly special is the artists who rehearse and perform there week in and week out.”