Riley Center Logo Unveiled

A logo that will symbolize the Mississippi State University-Riley Center for the Performing Arts from now on was unveiled Wednesday.

Officials see it as the real beginning of the center's operations, although the conversion of the buildings has a long way to go.

"And it's a point of the human expression. That logo we want to be identified with the new Riley Center and for people to understand that these buildings down here are not the Opera House necessarily anymore or the Marks Rothenberg building, but are the new Riley Center for Meridian," said Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the Riley Center.

The center recently hired a new marketing director as well, Meridian-native Penny Kemp, who comes from an ad agency in Atlanta.

"It's a tremendous preservation project, but it's more than that. (It's) an opportunity to the downtown area's economic development as well as the greater Meridian area's," Kemp said. "Also the opportunity to bring arts and culture and educational events to the city is going to be a tremendous advantage and benefit for the residents here, as well as people that it will bring in from outside the city."

When the Riley project was first conceived, Dr. Malcolm Portera was one of its biggest cheerleaders.

"I look into the Marks Rothenberg building. The infrastructure of steel is in. The construction is underway. Same thing is happening in the opera house there," said Portera. "There were 200 of these theatres built in the world. There are 19 left."

The current plan is for the center to open in mid-2006.