HGO, Symphony Officials Fear City Will Shaft Them in Favor of Convention Center

Representatives from the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Symphony went before City Council this afternoon to say a) they're worried privatizing the operations of key downtown facilities will end up favoring the George R. Brown Convention Center, and b) even though the plan is to be voted on tomorrow, they only received a copy of it around noon today.

Glen Rosenbaum, HGO's chairman of the board, told council that the Wortham Theater, which was built with private funds on city land, will need $60-$70 million in repairs and renovations a few years down the road.

He said he's concerned that if the GRB, the Wortham and Jones Hall are run by a private corporation instead of the city, the GRB will get the bulk of whatever money there will be for capital expenditures on renovations and maintenance.

"If both the Wortham Theater and the George R. Brown need $10 million in a given year and there's only a total of $10 million available," he said, "the $10 million should be split evenly" and not all go to the GRB.

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The current contract being considered does not stipulate that, he said.

Houston Symphony President Bobby Tudor also spoke at the council hearing, expressing the same concerns.

The proposal is on the agenda for approval tomorrow, but several councilmembers expressed hope that a vote could be delayed.

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