New marquee approved for Metropolis called 'a transformation' for downtown Arlington Heights

  • This rendering shows what a proposed marquee sign will look like once installed at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre on Campbell Street in downtown Arlington Heights.

    This rendering shows what a proposed marquee sign will look like once installed at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre on Campbell Street in downtown Arlington Heights. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights

 
 
Updated 12/17/2019 7:11 AM

Passersby may not be aware there's a stage theater in downtown Arlington Heights, but a new marquee sign will make it hard to miss.

The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre got permission Monday night from the village board to install the new marquee canopy above its main entrance at 111 W. Campbell St.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Measuring 26 feet wide, nearly 9 feet tall and extending 9 feet over the sidewalk, the marquee will be only slightly bigger than the stone and glass entrance canopy it will replace.

But theater officials believe the new sign will go a long way to more clearly identifying the venue, and generating walk-up foot traffic for theater performances the sign will advertise -- thereby increasing attendance and as much as $800,000 in new annual revenue.

"This is going to be a transformation for the theater -- not only for the theater but the whole downtown," said Neil Scheufler, the theater's major gifts and planned giving officer. "It will now be the reference point for everything downtown."

The front of the marquee will be illuminated with large letters spelling out "Metropolis Performing Arts Centre," while the left and right sides will have changeable electronic displays promoting upcoming and current theater productions.

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All three panels will be filled with individual illuminated LED bulbs, but almost all of the sign lighting must be off between 11 a.m. and 7 a.m., under rules approved by the board Monday.

Lighting under the marquee may remain on until 3 a.m. at the latest -- an hour after the weekend closing time of the Arlington Ale House, which is on the third floor of the building.

The board granted two variations from village sign code Monday night -- to permit the theater marquee with electronic message displays instead of manual ones, and to allow some off-premises advertising on the displays from theater sponsors.

Scheufler said the idea of a theater marquee has been discussed for at least five years, but only for the last 18 months has more serious planning taken place.

As Metropolis' finances have improved, more donors have been willing to commit to helping finance the sign's $300,000 cost, he said. So far, $230,000 has been received in cash and pledges, while state Sen. Ann Gillespie, an Arlington Heights Democrat, has tried to secure state arts grants that could help defray costs, Scheufler said.

It will take four months to fabricate the sign at South Water Signs in Elmhurst -- the same company that renovated the historic Wrigley Field marquee. Installation on site is expected to take another two weeks at the end of April or early May, ahead of a planned red carpet celebration.

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