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“I respectfully request $100 million to allow the City to support the private development of a downtown Performing Arts Center.”

That might be the most amazing sentence ever written by a politician.

But Mayor Lovely Warren did indeed ask for the money with a straight face in a February 13 letter to the governor. She also asked for other stuff, including money to repair sidewalks, reorganized the police department, fill in the Inner Loop and assist the Sibley Building project. Her monetary request was far, far greater than the wish list sent to the governor by Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Two weeks before Warren wrote her letter, I wrote a blog asking “Why Not Rochester?” The governor had just visited suburban Syracuse, awarding $100 million for a lakefront project. We can’t criticize Rochester for not getting anything and then criticize our leaders for asking.

Yes, Warren’s request was very bold. But we’re talking about a state that was prepared to give Syracuse University $200 million for an athletic stadium before Miner put on the brakes. We’re talking about a state that is giving Buffalo $1 billion, not including the tens of millions being used to renovate Ralph Wilson Stadium.

That fact is, we’d have a new performing arts center on Main Street if our last two mayors cared to advocate for one. If Warren wants a theater at Midtown, she’ll get a theater at Midtown, especially with help from County Executive Maggie Brooks, who said she supports the effort. Getting our state lawmakers behind that vision would help, too. (So far, they most definitely are not.)

Here’s what former Brooks spokesman Noah Lebowitz posted on my Facebook page:

Facebook comment


Links of the Day:


– A Cornell professor weighs in on college athletes getting paid. She relates them to medical interns.

– I just do not understand putting $95 million of tax dollars into a Ralph Wilson Stadium renovation while at the same time exploring a new Bills venue.

– See ya suburbs. More people want to live in the city.

– This is hysterical: When your anonymous neighbor makes fun of you via a Wi-Fi name.


Video of the Day:


10 Responses to Gotta Ask

  1. March 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm C. McGowan responds:

    The argument hers is: I’ve already paid my state taxes, so that money might as well come to Rochester vs. some other city?

    Can you point me to any research on the public’s interest in the various proposals? I would frankly be surprised to see strong interest in another performance facility, given the number and quality of the ones we already have. I have also not been impressed with the quality of the publicly-designed and funded architecture I’ve seen over the years.

  2. March 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm C. McGowan responds:

    feel free to fix the typos in my previous post… -CM

  3. so asking the state for $100 million is bold? So, if I asked the state for $100 million, would that be bold? Talk is cheep.

  4. March 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    Yes, we need the new Broadway theater, preferrably downtown. However, there do not need to be renovations to Wilson Stadium, nor a new stadium and/or arena for SU, as there is nothing wrong with either the existing Carrier Dome or Wilson Stadium.

  5. My thoughts….typical politics. Anybody can ASK for anything, but is it reasonable and does it have a chance to succeed? From what I have read, Mayor Warren has been on a constant journey of BEGGING for handouts. That apparently is her concept of leadership. When the handouts cease, what is left? It seems all her campaign promises are dependent on how good she is at begging…neighborhood policing, cultural arts, schools, and on and on and on. She has been in Washington and Albany many times. Even if she was to secure some type of funds, they are only kicking the can down the road. Time will tell…..the city is doomed until someone with a vision for a city that can survive on its own is elected mayor.

  6. We already have one. Kodak Center for the Performing Arts, formerly known as the Theater on the Ridge. We could have a world class art center for about 2% of what Lovely wants by simply providing the renovations to that amazing building. Done.

    • March 31, 2014 at 7:57 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Under 2k seats there. RBTL looking for 3k seat theater. Otherwise math doesn’t work on shows.

      • Ah. Had to look up because I wasn’t sure what you meant. I didn’t realize the Aud had over 2600 seats. I guess I should have, seeing how cramped and uncomfortable they are.

        That being said, RBTL is only one group in Rochester and groups like that are only one form of art. If we’re looking to give a few million to RBTL so they can build a new theater, then no. If we’re looking to create a space where all artists can interact with the community, then I’m good.

        • April 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

          When previous PAC discussions came up, there was talk about including smaller theater space, etc. I’m sure that would be part of any future discussion.

        • April 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm Kevin Yost responds:

          We need to have a “Performing Arts Mall” the idea that RIT performing arts professor Luann Davis-Haggerty suggested back in 2004.

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