Pain in the Arsht

Categories: Culture

We used the name, sure, but we were never really sold on “The Carnival” as a suitable moniker for Miami’s performing arts center. Little did we know it could get worse. “The Arsht”? Yeah, right. My arsht.

No offense to banker and philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, whose $30 million gift to the struggling seat of local culture means the place will henceforth be known as the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

It's just that, well, Fort Lauderdale gets to call its PAC the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. West Palm's Kravis Center is at least an easy enunciation.

So we get -- what? -- The Arsht Center? It seems so, at least until they re-sell the naming rights again: Carnival Cruise Lines bought its name back for $10 million of its original $20 million pledge, essentially cutting the value of the new gift by one third. But who’s counting?

Certainly not former CEO Michael Hardy, who was booed out of town late last year after a string of miscalculations and red ink, including low-balling occupancy costs like air-conditioning by more than half.

Notoriously, since Hardy came onboard the PAC operation in 2002 (as president of the PAC Trust), the center jumped 85 percent in price — from an estimated $255 million to $473 million – and opened 20 months late, with no parking.

“Now we have to say that the past is prologue,” an evidently flush Arsht said at a press conference at The Arsht yesterday, according to The Herald, which cited “many standing ovations.” Note the use of theatrical terminology! “Today we are at Act 1, scene 1,” Arsht continued. “Are you all ready? Curtain up; let the show begin.” Yes with the theatrical metaphors!

You heard the lady: A $473 million prologue for a $20 million production; she’s a born performer already. Maybe there’s hope yet for what has been, thus far, a bit of a sinking boat. --Frank Houston

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