Tobin Center to open Thursday


SAN ANTONIO – A flurry of activity filled the Tobin Center on Wednesday, as construction crews tended to last-minute details, making sure all would be ready for the Grand Opening on Thursday.

The first performance is being called a "Celebration of the Arts," which will bring together the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio and Opera San Antonio.

Outside, the front facade of the building maintains the look of the old Municipal Auditorium but the building has been completely revamped.

"This was knocked down and fully rebuilt," said Aaron Zimmerman, Tobin Center senior director of programming and marketing, "It's a $250 million project that turned into three performance spaces."

At night, the Tobin Center will light up the area.

"We have LEDs that are every 8 feet, and the veil allows us not only to change the color of the building, we can run messaging, we can run videos, we can do some abstract art, and I think that adds to the city landscape as well," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said every detail of the building, from the design to the acoustics was considered.  

"Every material in the room was built with sound in mind -- from the wood paneling, to the carpet on the floor, to the seating in there, the panels on the ceiling, the lights.  Everything was chosen specifically to make sure that the sound quality in the room is the best it could be," he said.

Even the seating is high tech, with an electronic convertible floor, which Zimmerman said was the first of it's kind in the U.S.

"Each individual row lifts up by itself and if you can imagine the seats flipping backwards, under the floor, so that they're hanging in the floor, kind of like bats, and then it drops back down to create a flat floor," he said.

The versatility allows for a variety of shows.

During the first few days Jason Mraz, Lynard Skynard and Trace Adkins will perform.

In October, Paul McCartney will play a fundraiser there.

"It's something that the city definitely has never seen before. We have some great  talent and some great theaters in town but this just raises the level for everybody," said Zimmerman.

While parking downtown tends to be a concern, Zimmerman said there are about 1,300 spots available around the Tobin, in addition to street parking.

He said there will also be valet parking available.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Tobin Center on Thursday morning, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The public is invited to drop by and get a sneak peak of the venue.

Tickets are still available for Thursday evening's kickoff performance, "Celebration of the Arts."

Tickets can be purchased online at www.tobincenter.org.

To see a list of events, click here.