Wichita seeks public's opinion on new seats for Century II

"Take a seat, pick a chair, leave it there, and don't stay long," said Mayor Carl Brewer with a smile as he spoke at a news conference Thursday at Century II.

The event launched a voting period in which the public is invited to give its input on new seating for the Century II Concert Hall.

From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Tuesday, three sample chairs will be on display between Century II and Expo Hall for the public to sit in and cast a ballot for their favorite.

New seats are part of the $22 million in upgrades the city plans as it prepares for a potential overhaul of Century II. The City Council approved $2.3 million worth of the renovations earlier this month, with most of that earmarked for seating.

"This is an exciting time," said John D'Angelo, Wichita arts and cultural services manager.

The Concert Hall is a 2,200-seat theater, home to the Wichita Symphony, Music Theatre of Wichita and Wichita Grand Opera. Last year, more than 195,000 people attended shows in the hall.

"Taking a seat today represents one more step forward on the journey to revitalize downtown," Brewer said. "We want to make sure we get the right seat."

For Brewer, the right one was Chair No. 3, a seat designed by Irwin Seating Co. For City Council member Lavonta Williams, Chair No. 1, designed by Track Seating, had the best support. Chair No. 2 on display was designed by American Seating Co.

Although votes from the public will not entirely determine chair selection, the results will be used by an advisory committee. The chairs will also be evaluated on ergonomics and padding, comfort and durability.

The committee's decision is expected to be made by mid-April and will then be forwarded to City Council for approval.

In addition to the installation of new seats, the Concert Hall will also receive new paint, carpet and caulking. The renovation is expected to begin in August and be completed in October.