Bentonville WAC Site; Fundraising Goal Not Yet Determined

The Walton Arts Center issued a request for proposals for its expansion in March 2010 and received 25 submissions from cities, colleges, landowners and other organizations. But in June, the Walton Family Foundation released a letter stating that it would not be the lead sponsor of a new performing arts venue unless that venue was built in Bentonville.

(Click here to read more about new arts-related developments in downtown Bentonville.)

So was it a foregone conclusion then that the new facility would be built in Bentonville?

"When we went into the site selection process we did not have information from the family about their preference," said Terri Trotter, COO of the Walton Arts Center.

The WAC board considered all the proposals against the criteria for the new center, such as a minimum of 3 acres and convenient access from Interstate 540.

However, she said, "Funding is a key criterion."

Right now, the WAC leadership is putting together a timeline and determining how much money will need to be raised. The board is considering several locations for the new facility, but has not made a decision yet.

"We have not decided on a site yet, but that site selection process gave us some," Trotter said. "That's not to say we wouldn't look at others. But we do have a handful; not all of them are necessarily within our goal, which is to be within a mile radius of downtown."

The initial feasibility study included an estimated cost of $180 million, but that was for 2,200-seat and 600-seat venues located in the same campus, Trotter said.