New Sugar Land entertainment venue set to host everything from church assemblies to rockstars

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Smart Financial Center will host more than 100 performances a year from local groups to rock stars. (KTRK)

Once it opens later this fall, the new $84 million Smart Financial Center at Sugar Land will host over 100 performances a year, ranging from church assemblies to rock shows. Eyewitness News' own Dave Ward got a sneak peek at the state-of-the-art venue that is already pulling in some of entertainment's big acts.

Among the first headliners to take the stage are comedian Jerry Seinfeld, rocker Don Henley and the movie-turned-Broadway hit, Dirty Dancing; they have all been confirmed by the venue's developer, Gary Becker.

"We can hang 290,000 pounds, we can hang every rock show you can imagine--and then some," said Becker, president of the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land.

Becker's family has been booking acts and rehabbing old venues since the 60's. Yet, this project is a little different.

"The fact that it's from the ground up has made it exciting for us, the fact that it's in our hometown is exciting for us," Becker said.

While there are plenty of other entertainment venues in the Houston area, developers say what makes the Smart Financial Center unique is its state-of-the-art technology. Think moving walls, that can accommodate different performers and their flock of fans, at the push of a button.

"We'll have walls that move in, we'll have curtains that come down," said Becker of the movable structures. "When we do Jerry Seinfeld to open the building, then we'll be open for 4,500 seats and then the next night when we have Don Henley, we'll have 6,400 seats."

Pitching comfort and convenience, the venue features 14 luxury suites, concessions and 2,500 parking spaces for attendees.

"It's going to be very comfortable and air conditioned," said Becker of the venue. "When you get to be our age and you want to see Don Henley or you want to see a classic rock band or you want to see a Tony Bennett, you can come to a place that's nice and air conditioned."

Built on city land, the venue will serve as the cornerstone of a cultural entertainment district with an open space plaza, corporate businesses along with a hotel and convention center further down the line for an economic boost to the area.

"This performance venue, the Smart Financial performance venue, it just adds to why people want to come to Sugar Land and work and play," Becker said.

Developers say the Smart Financial Centre project created more than 500 jobs during construction. In an effort to work with local and larger vendors alike, Becker says the venue is also in talks to host events related to the 2017 super bowl next year.

Despite having rehabbed theaters all over the country, Becker says he is still a local guy, keeping his business based in Houston, hoping to see the Sugar Land project do well.

"It's home, it's all we can say, it's home."

Tickets for the venue's first performance on January 14 with Jerry Seinfeld go on sale Friday on
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