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Mars could be open by early next year
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The doors to a finished and ready-for-business Mars Theatre are expected to open early next year.

Council members looked at what kinds of seats to install in the theatre and as City Manager Brett Bennett said, when it comes to seats, “you get what you pay for.”

“You get a five-year warranty for these seats and in five years, you want them to be there,” he added.

The large majority of the construction will be done by the end of the year, Bennett said, and the seats and audio-visual equipment likely will go in after the first of 2014.

Getting seats in will take about 100 days, once they’re ordered. Council members have looked at the style of seats under consideration.

“It will probably be another few weeks before we decide that,” Bennett said.

How many seats will be in the theater also is dependent upon the floor layout and size of the seats chosen. Bennett estimated the number of seats in the balcony and the main floor could be between 250 and 300.

Mars director Tommy Deadwyler said the seating and the elements of performance are important.

“Our goal is to have a premier room,” he said. “You don’t want your patrons to be uncomfortable. You want them to have a good experience. If they don’t have a good time, they won’t come back.”

City council members approved change orders for new counter tops and reductions in flooring. The change order also include repairs to the marquee.

Original plans called for finished concrete flooring but with plumbing cuts that needed to be made, it would have led to uneven concrete. The city instead will put in a carpet that will be cheaper and also will be more useful than a hardwood floor.

“The carpet will help bring the sound level down,” Deadwyler said. “Once you see the carpet, you’re going to be really impressed.”

The city also is looking at a proscenium, a part of a stage in front of a curtain. Bennett said they wanted to get away from a stage that was covered in drapes.

“It begins to look more like a school auditorium than a stage with nothing but drapes up there,” Bennett said.

At the city council’s retreat this summer, Bennett estimated costs for seats at $50,000 and for movie equipment at $100,000. Getting the appropriate seats may cost $70,000, and Bennett reduced his estimate for movie equipment, which will include a projector, a server, amplifiers and speakers. He also projected costs for sound equipment at $50,000 and $25,000 for lighting. Concessions equipment also could be about a $10,000 expense.

“We’re not getting the Taj Mahal,” he quipped.

Even once the seats, lighting and other accoutrements are installed, it still could be a couple of weeks before the theater hosts events.

“We’re going to do a couple of test runs, just to make sure everything is running properly when we open the doors,” Bennett said. “We don’t want any kinks when we open the doors.”