Fresno Convention Center Upgrades

The Fresno City Council in California has approved an estimated $15 million for repairs to the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center

Bill Overfelt, GM of the SMG-managed facility, said the plan has been in the works for about a year and includes much-needed repairs to the complex’s 2,349-seat William Saroyan Theatre and 11,300-seat Selland Arena.

“The first phase of the plan would be approximately $13 to $14 million with improvements generally pointed in the direction of the arena and Saroyan Theatre. They would encompass replacement of chillers (which provide cool air to the venues), seat replacements, backstage improvements, dressing rooms, etc,” Overfelt told Pollstar.

“The total capital needs assessment plan is in excess of $32 million. That’s going to be accomplished, obviously, over a period of time in different phases.

“Our plan overall, even with the improvements, is to stay operational. I would imagine the implementation and installation of the first phase will take a couple of years to accomplish.”

Overfelt has been dealing with the problems one at a time, with the replacement of two chillers at the top of the list. He has been renting a temporary chiller at $21,000 a month since last August.

Another project in the works is roof repair for the facilities, and that can’t come too soon. Overfelt found himself mopping up water leaking from the ceiling in a dressing room at the Saroyan Theatre during a Nine Inch Nails meet-and-greet March 23rd.

Overfelt said that after the important operational issues are taken care of, the next priority will be to enhance the patrons’ experience at the facilities and try to generate additional revenue.

With an upgraded Selland Arena and the new 16,000-seat Save Mart Center across town, also managed by SMG, more national acts are taking their tours through Fresno. And that’s just what Overfelt and his staff have been working toward.

“I think we’re quickly demonstrating to the entertainment industry that this city, as a whole, has good venues and, at the end of the day, we’re able to sell tickets,” he said.

Tina Amendola