Realizing a Dream: A Look Back

What began as a dream by a handful of people in the 1980s began to become a reality on Feb. 3, 2000. Then-president of Mississippi State University, Dr. Malcolm Portera, announced plans to renovate the Marks Rothenberg Building and the Grand Opera House, and build a downtown parking garage.

"I have never seen anything that has the potential to create the type of momentum that this has the potential to create in downtown Meridian," Portera said.

That momentum was a little slow in coming. The center was first scheduled to open in 2003. Mississippi State took possession of the property in 2001, but work didn't even begin on the project until 2003.

When the design and work phase began, renovators realized there would be more work involved than was originally thought. By 2004, the work to the inside of the building was well underway.

In early 2005, the parking garage was complete. By that time the opening date was tentatively planned for late 2005. It was pushed back one final time to now.

But it is most certainly ready and center officials say what people will see will be well worth the wait.Click here to view this story

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