The Ball State University Board of Trustees on Friday, in its first meeting of the 2023-24 academic year, reviewed a comprehensive design for the University’s new Performing Arts Center.

The Performing Arts Center, a venue that will connect to a new select-service hotel, will be the catalyst for the University’s revitalization plan for The Village, a commercial district located immediately adjacent to campus.

Pending approvals, construction on the $60 million project, which will be located on the northeast corner of University and McKinley Avenues in Muncie, is scheduled to begin in Fall 2024 and to be completed by Fall 2026.

“I am grateful to the Ball State Project Design Committee, whose hard work has resulted in the beautiful design of our Performing Arts Center,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “This facility will showcase the talent of our Department of Theatre and Dance students and faculty and provide an inviting entry to our vibrant campus for the greater Muncie and East Central Indiana communities.”

Performing Arts Center plans reviewed on Friday include:

  • A two-story building structure with a lower level that will be a combination of steel frame, concrete, and wood construction. The exterior skin will consist of metal panels, precast limestone look panels, concrete, and brick. Glass will be used extensively, providing transparency from the street and interior spaces, showcasing both production and behind-the-scenes craft.

  • User-friendly spaces for teaching and learning by day, and highly experiential spaces for audiences by night. Support spaces include a main stage theatre with seating for 425 spectators; a studio “black box” theatre; dressing rooms and a green room; a lobby connected to the hotel; scene shop; costume shop; lighting and sound shops; and storage.

In June, Ball State’s Board of Trustees authorized President Mearns to execute a development agreement between the University and Fairmount Properties to create a best-in-class, multigenerational district driven by arts and culture, entertainment, and innovation that includes the Performing Arts Center and hotel and new dining, retail, and gathering options for the area.

The Performing Arts Center—which is expected to host more than 160 University performances and draw more than 35,000 attendees to The Village each year—is expected to leverage approximately $80 million in private investment into the revitalization project.

The Trustees on Friday also heard an update on Ball State student enrollment for the Fall 2023 semester. This Fall, the University enrolled more than 3,800 new freshmen—a nine-percent increase compared to Fall 2022. The University saw similar increases in returning undergraduate students and new graduate and international students.

“We are encouraged by our year-to-year increases in enrollment and retention,” Board Chair Renae Conley said. “We are grateful to our faculty and staff, particularly those in Enrollment Planning and Management, who have implemented innovative strategies that have enabled Ball State to move past the challenges presented by a global pandemic to recruit and enroll new students at or above pre-pandemic rates.”