Centennial Showboat resurfaces

by Kelly Wittman

University regents have a plan that would allow the University Theater Arts showboat program to resurface.
At a Thursday meeting of the Board of Regents Facilities Committee, architect John Mecum of Miller-Dunwiddie Associates Inc. unveiled plans to rebuild the University’s ailing showboat.
Built in 1899, the Centennial Showboat, formerly known as the General John Newton, was donated to the University in 1958. It was used to entertain visitors until shows were discontinued in 1993, when renovations to bring the boat up to date with safety codes, which was expected to cost more than $1 million, proved cost-prohibitive.
The boat is now moored at Harriet Island in St. Paul. The city has tentatively approved plans for work on the island’s shoreline for a showboat facility, including improving parking, Mecum said.
The newly reconditioned showboat will be accessible to theater patrons with disabilities and have increased seating space, thanks to the addition of balcony seating. It will also have an extra 7« feet of deck added to each side of the boat, in order to comply with the same safety codes that sank the showboat operation in the first place, he said.
Linda McCracken-Hunt, director of project development at the University, said the entire $2.2 million needed for renovations is coming entirely from a fund-raising effort.
If fund-raising goes as planned, the upgraded showboat should be open for the 1997 summer season, she said.
Other committee action
ù At a meeting of the Board of Regents Financial Operations committee, members approved $628,672 for Housing Services. The money will be used for new furniture for new student apartments being built near Sanford Hall, said Karen Triplett, director of purchasing and materials management for the University.
The money will also buy replacement furniture for Bailey, Frontier, Sanford and Territorial halls, she said.
“This purchase is an excellent value and is important to the quality of life of our residents,” she said.
ù Regents also approved $6 million for a contract with Professional Food Service Management to provide food service to the Morris campus. The Lacrosse company has held the contract for the last five years and has a revenue sharing arrangement with the University, Triplett said.
ù The University will also go outside its own resources to hire temporary workers. Committee members voted to give Adia Personnel Services $1.8 million to furnish temporary workers to the University until June 30, 1997.
ù A fee on University endowments passed unanimously among Financial Operations committee members. The University will now take three quarters of 1 percent of each annual endowment and use it to support fund-raising efforts. Administrators expect to raise $1.5 million each year for overhead costs related to fund-raising efforts.