State Theatre renovation project to receive $5 million boost

DOWNTOWN SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The protracted renovation project at the State Theatre in downtown Sioux Falls is getting a major boost.

Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford and the City of Sioux Falls are donating a combined $5 million to the project, organizers announced Wednesday.

Sanford will donate $3.5 million to the renovation project, while the city will contribute an additional $1.5 million.

Organizers are hoping to open the theatre by spring of 2020. The first film shown will be "Gone With the Wind," according to State Theatre President John Swedeen said.

The State Theatre closed "unceremoniously" in 1991, according to the Sioux Falls State Theatre company website.

The renovation project has been in the works for over a decade. The Sioux Falls State Theatre Company purchased the building in 2005, and has been leading the effort ever since.

During a press briefing Wednesday morning, Sanford said he has been following the project's progress. He said he hopes his contribution helps it get finished more quickly.

Sanford's donation will support the completion of the auditorium. It will help turn the theatre into a premium movie house experience. Features will include high-end projection and sound equipment as well as recliners for audiences.

The city's $1.5 million pledge will finance the exterior and structure of the building, life-safety measures, and accessibility.

City spokesman T.J. Nelson said the city's money comes from the Entertainment Tax Fund, which is a fund restricted for culture and entertainment projects.

Movies at the theatre are expected to resume next spring.