ST. PETERSBURG — However mundane, the expanded restroom facilities and new air-conditioning unit slated for The Palladium Theater signify its growing importance as a local venue.
Rounding out its 15th anniversary, the St. Petersburg College-run concert hall has begun to carve out a niche as a venue catering to local acts, though it does attract some touring acts and once did host Billy Joel. The venue has come to complement larger venues such as Ruth Eckerd Hall and The Mahaffey Theatre.
“People realized we built these performing arts centers and no one local could afford to perform there,” said Paul Wilborn, The Palladium’s executive director.
That’s why the facility, which has two venues, is temporarily closed down for a $330,000 renovation through this month. The smaller venue, the Side Door, is expected to reopen Aug. 1 after it receives a new air-conditioning system. But Hough Hall, the larger, 850-seat main auditorium upstairs, will remain closed for much of the month while the venue adds bathroom facilities, which Wilborn said can get crowded during The Palladium’s increasingly common sold-out shows.
“The lines for the bathrooms are terrible,” Wilborn said. “It’s not glamorous, but, boy, it’s really needed.”
The Palladium will reopen to a slew of popular local acts, including nationally touring blues act the Selwyn Birchwood Band and bands the Ditchflowers and Ricky Wilcox and the Moonsnakes. In September, internationally known Frank Zappa tribute band Bogus Pomp will perform on the main stage with a full orchestra.
“The place is really on fire these days,” Wilborn said.