SPRINGFIELD The paint was still drying on some walls, the ice was being laid down on the rink, and workers were cleaning off seats in the arena with less than a week away from its opening, the finishing touches were being made on the $71 million MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.
The renovated former Civic Center will be introduced to the public on Sept. 30 with a day of activities, and on Oct. 1 with a special performance of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) at 7:30 p.m.
The SSO concert will include classical sounds of popular compositions, including Gershwin's An American in Paris, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, the patriotic The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and many more.
Joining the SSO will be singer Ashley Gearing, as well as 110 choristers.
A portion of the proceeds from the MassMutual Center's Premier Weekend, a gala reception and performance by the SSO, will be donated to Baystate Medical Center Children's Hospital, Open Pantry Community Services, Inc. and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
The newly refurbished arena will now seat 6,677 people for hockey games and about 8,000 for concerts.
Audiences attending events at the arena will notice many changes including new and additional rest rooms, new seating with improved aisles, a huge scoreboard and a new sports lounge.
Holders of "club seats" will be able to use a separate members-only lounge and a private entrance.
The MassMutual Center also features a 40,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall; 9,000-sq. ft. of meeting space; a 15,000-sq. ft. ballroom; and 15,000-sq. ft. of pre-function space.
Besides remaining the home of the Springfield Falcons, the Center will present Sesame Street Live from Oct. 13 through 16; The Tip Off Classic at 7 p.m. Nov. 25; The Dan Kane Singers in concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2,; and the Boston Pops at 2 p.m. Dec. 18.
The Center maintains a calendar of up-coming events at its web site www.massmutualcenter.com.
Tickets are still available for the SSO performance at $15, $25, $35 and $45 and can be purchased by calling the MassMutual Center Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets. To charge by phone call (413) 787-6600, (800) 639-8602, (413) 733-2500 or log on to www.ticketmaster.com.