Built in 1973, the Abraham Chavez Theater in El Paso is currently in need of up to $45 million in upgrading and renovations.
So say City of El Paso officials who are contemplating bringing the 2,500-seat facility up to date.
Known for its unique sombrero-shaped building and 5,000 square-foot circular lobby, the theater was actively under consideration to be the home for the proposed Mexican American Cultural Center, a project estimated to cost around $36 million.
That money, according to a plan announced in 2015, would have come from a combination of City of El Paso funds and the support of the Mexican American Cultural Institution.
But by last year the project had fallen through when fund-raising on the part of the institution lagged.
Now, although El Paso remains committed to the building of a Mexican American Cultural Center, the question of whether or not to update the Chavez Theater remains unanswered.
It has been suggested that the City could organize a re-vote of the pivotal 2012 Quality of Life bonds election, delegating funding for the theater’s upgrading.
City officials say that whether the theater is upgraded as a live performance venue, or used for other suggested purposes - such as providing banquet space for the nearby El Paso Convention Space - the structure itself will remain as it is.
That’s because in 2012 the El Paso City Council approved a resolution to keep the building intact and to prohibit its demolition.
One of the most popular theaters in the southwest, the Abraham Chavez Theater last year, according to the industry publication Pollster, hosted events that attracted more than 35,000 people.
By Garry Boulard