In its heyday Memorial Auditorium was the only facility of its kind in the region. Originally constructed in 1926, it is one of the truly significant historic buildings in Sacramento. It has hosted countless social, political, sporting and theatrical events over the years, but by 1974 use of the venue began to decline. As the size of audiences and cost of productions increased, event promoters found it easier and more profitable to move to newer, larger facilities.
In 1986 the Auditorium closed for safety reasons. Before spending the money necessary to make repairs, the City Council asked a citizens committee to study how the Auditorium should be renovated to best serve the community through the next century.
In 1989 Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture, in a joint venture with James Stewart Polshek & Partners, developed a program of restoration and conversion for this landmark municipal theater which would preserve and restore the historic exterior, while perfecting the sight lines, acoustics, seating, theatrical equipment systems and safety deficiencies inside. This renovation would have elevated the Memorial Auditorium to a world-class facility, rivaling the best theaters in the nation.
The project was successfully bid and a contractor was selected. However, in 1992, a ballot initiative to keep the seating arena-style instead of fixed, stopped the renovation project from moving forward.