Summer Fun: New Convention Center

The SAFE Credit Union Convention Center and Performing Arts Center will open in time for a fall run of “Hamilton.”
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safe credit union convention center
Photo by Populous/Visit Sacramento

The downtown skyline evolved during the pandemic with the completion of the sparkling $245 million renovation and expansion of the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center and Performing Arts Center, which has booked Broadway on Tour’s “Hamilton” for a fall run.

The convention center expansion puts Sacramento on par with other West Coast cities with convention spaces that had more modern amenities and could accommodate more than one big meeting at a time.

“We were selling an inferior product,” says Visit Sacramento executive director Mike Testa of the center, which was last updated in 1996. “Customers want the latest Wi-Fi and other technology. Our buildings didn’t compare with those of our competitors.”

The convention center, at 1400 J St., now has 240,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, and can host two events at the same time. The renovation effectively doubles the center’s capacity, bringing twice as many people to the area who will book hotel rooms, dine at restaurants and spend money at other entertainment venues—great news for businesses big and small that have suffered tremendous losses during the pandemic.

The city already has booked 14 groups in the building, projecting an estimated $35 million in economic boost for Sacramento.

Next door, at 1301 L St., is the renovated performing arts center, with a new L Street entryway, activity plaza north of the theater, enhanced accessibility, new AV and lighting systems and larger concessions areas, among other enhancements. The first big production will be a touring “Hamilton, running Sept. 15–Oct. 10, delighting starved Broadway fans who will have to wait until 2022 to take in shows at Music Circus.

While there, take a minute to see the diverse art installations—including “Lunar Specimen 12038,7,” a clear, acrylic resin sculpture modeled after a moon rock brought back from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, and “Cathedral,” a 25-foot homage to California’s forested landscape with trapezoidal planks echoing the shape of a tree. Five pieces, including two inside the Performing Arts Center, will be installed by the end of September.

Also, Ballet

starry night by manny crisostomo
Photo by Manny Crisostomo

Capital Dance Project

The innovative and independent dancer-run company that wowed online audiences during the height of the pandemic, will present a Sensory Friendly Dance Performance at B Street Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 21, and a Behind the Barre performance at Crest Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 18. capitaldanceproject.org

Sacramento Ballet’s

Professional dancers are getting back in shape under the direction of the recently named artistic director Anthony Krutzkamp. The company will open with “The Nutcracker” at the new SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center during the holiday season. sacballet.org