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Hale Centre Theatre representatives on Tuesday asked a Utah Legislature committee for $2 million in seed money to help it expand.

Brent Lange, Hale vice president and chief administrative officer, and the theater's lobbyist, former House speaker Greg Curtis, told members of the Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee that the community theater is planning a major expansion.

Lange said the theater is operating at 100 percent capacity and wants to build a 210,000-square-foot, three-stage facility, estimated to cost $65 million. House Majority Whip Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, made the appropriations request.

Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, pointed out that Hale already gets ongoing funding, of $87,500 a year, in a direct line item appropriation — something few other arts groups get. According to committee staff, three other arts organizations receive small appropriations each year, which means they don't necessarily have to go through the competitive grant process.

Hale officials have been considering two cities as a location for an expanded facility — West Valley City, which bonded for funds in 1997 to help build the current venue at 3500 South and Interstate 215, and Sandy, which is touting the prime visibility along Interstate 15 of a site at 9950 Monroe St.

West Valley halted talks with Hale earlier this month, saying that it had presented its best case for expanding there but that it believes theater officials prefer to build in another location.

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC

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