County Judge Asks Gov. Greg Abbott to Reopen San Antonio's Tobin Center

Facebook / Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff is asking Texas' governor to allow the Tobin Center to host concerts and other events again.

In a May 19 letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Wolff asks for guidance on when San Antonio's 1,700-seat performing arts venue will get a green light to reopen at limited capacity. He points out that similar types of businesses have already been included in the governor's orders reopening the economy.

"Currently, guidance has been provided for reopening of the following: Churches and Places of Worship, Movie Theaters, Wedding Venues, Bowling Alleys, and Bingo Halls," Wolff wrote. "The Tobin's operations are similar to that of a movie theater or large church, with comparable entertainment or attendance."

The Tobin has cancelled or rescheduled myriad concerts and events since the coronavirus pandemic reached U.S. shores. The San Antonio Symphony, which performs at the venue, was also forced to end its season early.

Wolff also pointed out that the Tobin uses a mechanized system that allows it to sink rows of seating into the floor. That will allow it to enforce social distancing of audience members and operate in a "safe, sensible manner," he added.

Wolff's outreach was prompted by a letter from Tobin President and CEO Michael Fresher, who asked the county judge to clarify when the venue would could begin staging shows again.

In an interview with the Current, Fresher said he hopes to receive approval in time to restart the Tobin's outdoor movie series in July. If given state approval, the hall could also begin booking shows that require smaller numbers of stagehands and lower overhead — comedians and lecturers, for example.

Fresher said he doesn't expect the Tobin to play host to major rock tours or operate its auditorium at full capacity in the near term. However, the space cannot survive indefinitely without ticket sales.

"If this goes on for a year, we're going to have a problem," he said.

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