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“Hayride” site closes for upgrades

Courtesy Shreveport-Bossier CVB

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER, La. — For the first time since it opened on Nov. 11, 1929, the historic Shreveport Municipal Auditorium will close for renovation. The project is expected to take about a year.

Minutes from downtown Shreveport on Elvis Presley Avenue, the auditorium was the home of the Louisiana Hayride, a 50,000-watt radio broadcast that gave rise to Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and other musicians.

The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is a 6,300-square-foot arena with a 54-foot proscenium arch and seating for more than 3,000.

It continues to be a tourist attraction, as well as a venue for such wide-ranging events as sporting events and formal balls.

During the renovation, easy-to-use ADA-compliant seating and new seating in the orchestra level will be added. The building will be rewired, windows will be replaced and resealed, a backstage load-in elevator will be installed, floors will be refinished, climate-control systems will be upgraded, and dressing rooms will be refurbished.

“All of the greats played on this stage at some point in their career, from Jimi Hendrix to Bob Dylan, to the ‘Hayride’ stars,” Sam Voisin, regional general manager of SMG facilities management, said. “When Elvis performed for the first time on radio at the ‘Hayride,’ the face of music changed right in front of our eyes on the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium stage. Some even say that the spirit of music has never left the building.”

A grand reopening, scheduled for April 2014, will be a part of a monthlong celebration highlighted by the “Louisiana Hayride” in partnership with the Grammy organization. Plans are to produce a special nationally broadcast concert.