• Belk Theater asks to use taxpayer money to replace seats

    By: Erica Bryant


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte City Council could decide Monday night whether tax payer dollars will be spent on renovating seats at the Belk Theater.

    Channel 9 has learned the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in uptown Charlotte is asking for $800,000 in taxpayer money for upgrades.

    The request to the city comes just a few months after taxpayers gave the theater even more money.

    Channel 9 will be at the meeting tonight and will have the latest on this story on Eyewitness News at 10 and 11 p.m. and on wsoctv.com.

    For more than 20 years, the Belk Theater has housed spectacular shows. Now Blumenthal Performing Arts President Tom Gabbard said the seats are worn out and need to be replaced.

    “They were slated to replace them in 2008 but because of the economic downturn we decided to wait. But now they are well beyond their useful life,” Gabbard said.

    He said the springs in the seats are outdated and noisy.

    “You're sitting in the spring seat during a show and it's really embarrassing,” Gabbard said.

    Theater officials are asking the city for the money to replace them with quieter ones made of foam.

    Some taxpayers were not happy to hear about the request.

    “No, no. Not our money. Figure out another way to get it done. Not taxpayer money,” said Kim Wells.

    Many said they could think of better things to do with that money, like improving the roads, schools and the homeless situation.

    Last October, the city approved $800,000 to upgrade the women's restroom at the theater.

    Gabbard says all of the renovations are worth it to make Charlotte an attractive place for people to live and work.

    The issue goes before City Council for a vote on Monday night.

    It looks like the theater is anticipating that it will pass.

    The staff has blocked off one month this summer where there will be no shows, to allow time to do the work.

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