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Facelift for Rodney Auditorium

February 13, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

Dateline: Calexico

In around two weeks, construction workers will complete almost $1 million in renovations at venerable Rodney Auditorium at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus.

When they are done there will be a new curtain, new paint job, new lighting, a better stage, new windows, ramps on the side of the auditorium for wheelchair access to the stage, holes where speakers should be and old seats.

Huh? No sound system and old seats?

"It's like a new suit with old shoes," according to Mayor Pro Tem John Renison, SDSU-IV director of advancement.

Two years ago SDSU applied for money to renovate Rodney. It received $950,000.

That isn't enough to purchase and install a state-of-the-art sound system or new seats, according to Renison.

In coming weeks, he will try to round up the money for the new seats by auctioning the old ones to SDSU or Calexico High School alumni.


Those seats hold special memories for a good number of Calexicans because Rodney has housed hundreds of graduation programs, plays, concerts and special events since it opened in 1928 as part of the then Calexico High campus.

One seat will cost $100.

Since there are 450 old seats, Renison hopes to raise $45,000 of the $80,000 cost of the new seats.

The rest of the money could be collected from a seat-naming program, corporate sponsorships or large donations from alumni.

For $100, a person could get their name engraved on a seat; for hundreds more a row of seats.

"We feel we can tug on the heart strings of our alumni to get that money," Renison said.

If that doesn't work?

"How about McDonald's Stage at Rodney Auditorium … something like that," he said.

Until the school collects enough money to replace the seats, the old ones will have to do.

As for the sound system, Renison hopes an alumnus drops a $25,000 check and foots the bill.

Once everything is completed, the auditorium should look and sound really sharp, according to Renison.

In his office he has examples of two styles of new seats.

He prefers the one with a higher back for better neck support.

"And they'll be 1-and-a-half to 2 inches wider … you know … in case you're there for two hours or something," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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