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BTI Gives $3.1 Million to Expanded Memorial Auditorium

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Artist's rendering of the Performing Arts addition to Memorial Auditorium. (WRAL-TV5 News)
RALEIGH — Raleigh's expanded Memorial Auditorium complexwill be named the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, thanks to a $3.1million gift from the telecommunications company. The money will helpbuild performance halls that will flank the present auditorium.

Memorial Auditorium, which anchors the downtown area, opened in 1932 tohonor the state's war veterans. Over the decades it has been the site ofmany live performances, but in recent years has undergone both renovationand expansion as the region has grown more populous and demands on thefacilities have grown.

Each of the two performance halls that would compose the BTI Centeralso provide naming opportunities for substantial donors. The 1700-seatmusic hall and a 500-seat theater, along with gardens, the orchestra pit,backstage areas and sound and light systems can promote a company or honoran individual.

The new halls would flank the present 2300-seat Memorial Auditorium.The North Carolina Symphony would perform in the new concert hall, freeingup the Memorial Auditorium segment for more touring shows.

BTI will donate $2.5 million in cash over 10 years, starting in 1998.An additional $500,000 will be made in in-kind contributions, and thefinal $100,000 will be paid in 2008.

If construction rolls through without serious hitches, the city hopesto open the expanded center with a gala party New Year's Eve 1999.

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