An $8 million upgrade of the Tucson Convention Center is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
The work continues even though entertainment is still scheduled in the arena, said Fletcher McCusker, chairman of the Rio Nuevo Downtown Redevelopment District Board.
“We are actually working around the convention center schedule, so we’re in for several days, sometimes 24 hours a day and then back out if there’s an event," he said.
The district is responsible for using a portion of state sales taxes collected in a designated area of downtown and central Tucson to fund redevelopment downtown. In 2010, the Arizona Legislature took control of the board that had spent more than $230 million with little to show for it. Lawmakers restricted the board's ability to spend money to just the convention center and an associated hotel downtown that has never come to fruition.
Legislation signed into law last month allows the district to spend money on other redevelopment projects. The district will likely have about $50 million to spend in the coming years, McCusker said, but the district doesn't have plans for that money yet.
"We are most interested in the vacant lands that are west of the TCC," he said, including west of Interstate-10 at the end of the streetcar line, and just west of the TCC where a new arena was once planned.
The TCC remodel underway is restricted to just the arena, McCusker said.
"We’re not touching the exhibition hall, or Leo Rich (theater) or the Music Hall," he said. "It’s all new seating, lights, concessions, new bathrooms, new paint, new sound and lights. That sound system was built the same time Woodstock was. It’s not been upgraded since the '60s."
The changes will be notable, McCusker said.
"It should be an arena that you would be proud to come back to, and the sound and the lights and the seating would be great," he said.