Spirits were high at the event next door at Neumont University, 143 S. Main, where Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker noted the milestone and thanked the school and area businesses for putting up with the massive construction project.
Normally, he wouldn't celebrate a project halfway done, said the mayor, who is running for a third term. "But this one is different. This one took so many people so long to get to this point."
The 2,500-seat Broadway-style theater is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2016. But the curtain for the first show most likely will not go up until fall 2016.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams was instrumental in the creation of the theater as a member of Becker's administration before McAdams' election to the top county post in 2012.
"This is an example of what can happen when the city and county work together with the private sector," McAdams said. The theater "is truly spectacular and will help define the architecture of Salt Lake City."
The playhouse was designed by HKS Architects and renowned designer César Pelli of the firm Pelli Clarke Pelli.
The $119 million project is on schedule, according to officials. About 18 percent to 20 percent of the total cost will come from private donations and naming rights. The Eccles Foundation provided $15 million.
The largest chunk of funding will come from property taxes earmarked to retire the debt on EnergySolutions Arena and the Salt Palace expansion.
Salt Lake County Center for the Arts and MagicSpace Entertainment have announced that "The Lion King" will play the new theater sometime in early 2017.
MagicSpace also is seeking to bring other Broadway shows to the Eccles Theater, said John W. Ballard, a senior executive with the entertainment company.
"We are in negotiations with every show on Broadway," he said. "This will be one of the best performing-arts theaters in North America."
The Center for the Arts and MagicSpace will roll out the theater's lineup later this year.
Video and more photos
• For a time-lapse video of Eccles Theater construction, go to http://tinyurl.com/qed6mfy.
• For a photo gallery of Wednesday's tour, go to www.sltrib.com.