Riley Center on Track

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There is still a lot of work to be done at the site of the Mississippi State University-Riley Education and Performing Arts Center.

It's already heading into the final phase of restoration, which will last well into 2006.

Work includes stabilizing the building, pouring new concrete floors and restoring the old windows in the building as well as the tin sheets on the ceiling.

One recent discovery revealed several layers of old wallpaper in the opera house, which will be digitally reproduced to resemble the original.

"We are in phase three and we are beginning phase four. On the outside they are repainting all of the outside and sealing up the masonry brick," said Dennis Sankovich, executive director.

A recent $2.1 million grant from the Riley Foundation will allow for technology upgrades to complete the project.

Once complete, the $24.8 million, 30,000 square foot center will have multiple uses for performances, conferences, educational programs, receptions and even a television studio.

"I have booked a wide variety of performing arts events," said Sankovich. "It's our goal to have 50 to 60 events here. All members of the community saw performances at the opera house and we want to bring that back."

The center is slated to be complete in early may 2006. The grand opening of the building will follow at the end of summer 2006.