Landmark Theater now known as Altria Theater

What’s in a name? About $10 million.

Landmark Theater

Update #3 — February 21, 2014; 6:41 AM

The 86-year-old Landmark Theater today officially becomes the Altria Theater. The Altria Group spent $10 million to secure the theater’s naming rights (see bottommost post) and fund the theater’s $50 million renovation project.

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Update #2 – December 21st, 9:18 AM

Last night, Dominion Resources, Inc. announced that it will donate $2 million to fund ongoing renovations of the Landmark Theater, helping to subsidize the theater’s $50 million renovation project that began in July. The announcement was made outside of the 85-year-old theater before a Richmond Ballet performance of The Nutrcracker. As a result of the sizable donation, the Landmark’s stage will be renamed the Dominion Stage in late 2013.

“As part of our commitment to the arts and our community, Dominion is pleased to donate $2 million to help renovate Richmond’s historic Landmark Theater,” said Dominion CEO, Thomas F. Farrell. “Once the renovation is complete, our region will enjoy a complement to the state-of-the-art Carpenter Theatre and boast yet another world-class venue for the performing arts.”

Among those present at last night’s announcement was Mayor Dwight Jones.

“The City of Richmond is grateful to Dominion for their generous contribution to the Landmark Theater renovation fundraising campaign and endowment,” said Jones. “This investment will further our mission to make the renovated theater a catalyst for economic and cultural development throughout the city and the region as a whole.”

Next year, the Landmark Theater will be named the Altria Theater after Altria paid $10 million to secure the theater’s naming rights. Those funds will also help finance the theater’s hefty renovation project (see post below).

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Update #1 – November 13th, 2:47 PM

After closing for renovations in July, the Landmark Theater reopened its doors yesterday after repairs were made to the theater’s roof, facade, and other structural elements. The reopening occurs ahead of several notable performances taking place over the next 30 days:

Tonight, The U.S. Army Chorus and The Richmond Pops Band will perform a free concert at 7:30 PM.

Tickets for these and other shows can be purchased at the Landmark Box Office, CenterStage Box Office, online, or by calling 1.800.515.3849.

Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Next year, the Landmark Theater will be renamed the Altria Theater (see post below). Renovations of the Landmark are expected to continue over the next two years.

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Beginning in 2013, the 85-year-old Landmark Theater will be renamed the Altria Theater. Today members of the Richmond CenterStage foundation, The Altria Group, and Mayor Dwight Jones announced that Altria had secured the theater’s naming rights for $10 million.

“We are fortunate to have a partner like Altria, which understands the power of the arts and the impact they as corporate citizen can make on our community,” said Richard Parison, Jr., executive director of Richmond CenterStage.

The theater will be formally named the Altria Theater when the first phase of the current $50 million renovation is completed in 2013. Altria will hold the naming rights of the historic theater for 20 years.

Altria Chairman and CEO Martin J. Barrington said: “Everyone at Altria is very proud to be a part of this effort.” He said that securing the naming rights is an important step toward achieving Altria’s goal of supporting the Richmond Region. “We hope and expect and believe that the renovation of the Altria Theater will prove to be a catalyst for economic growth.”

In his remarks, Mayor Jones said that the renovations are expected to garner approximately $6 million of increased revenue to the city. “This investment is extremely important,” said Jones. “It’s no mistake that the Altria Theater is in the Cultural District,” referring to the newly established creation of the Arts and Cultural District. “It is a wonderful venue that we cannot afford to lose.”

photo by taberandrew

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

27 comments on Landmark Theater now known as Altria Theater

  1. wren on said:

    I am never calling it that. Period. Full stop.

  2. Lucas on said:

    Can’t wait til the renovations are done so I can go see more shows and concerts at THE MOSQUE!

  3. schlep on said:

    Corporations are the New People, and they say shit like, “We hope and expect and believe that the renovation of the Altria Theater will prove to be a catalyst for economic growth.” :P

  4. This must be some of that “corporate welfare” I’ve been hearing about.

  5. Darien on said:

    Ridiculous. They can own it, make it known that they own it, and still profit. They don’t need to NAME it after themselves, it’s not going to make cigarettes any more popular lol. How transparent.

  6. Scott on said:
  7. gdawg on said:

    Darien – They will pay $10 million for the “naming rights” … hence why their NAME will attached to the building. Altria won’t own the building or profit directly from it. You can still call it the Mosque or the Landmark or whatever you’d like to call it.

  8. Jennifer C. on said:

    I’m going to call it the Philip Morrosque.

  9. Kenny Williams on said:

    To keep the thing open I guess you have to make a deal with the Devil. Happy smoking! Hope you don’t cough all through Swan Lake.

  10. Scott on said:

    Altria group is gross. It’s not like people are going to stop calling it the mosque or landmark.

  11. Jeb Hoge on said:

    If Altria were smart, they’d leave the name the way it is and just finance the renovation. They can still claim credit for it without changing its fundamental recognition.

  12. Roger Talbott on said:

    I don’t know why every one is pooping their pants over this. Landmark wasnt even the original name. “landmark” is about as creative and distinct as naming it “6 North Laurel” If we cant have “The Mosque” then naming it for a local employer of thousands who moved HQ from NYC to chill with us in Richmond is just fine with me.

  13. Scott Burger on said:

    Yes, I am less concerned with the renaming, though as obnoxious as it may be, and wish people would concentrate what is going on with the the entity that controls it now, Center Stage.

    Excerpts from Don Harrison’s recent back page in Style:

    “The mayor and City Council recently gave control of the Landmark Theater, Richmond’s premier performing arts venue, to the CenterStage Foundation for 40 years. They also agreed to give $14 million in taxpayer dollars to the public-private entity to oversee the theater’s renovation. Not only that, they awarded CenterStage, the arts complex that the foundation built and opened in 2009, an extra $250,000 starting in 2015, increasing its annual operations subsidy from the city to $750,000.

    This deal supposedly hinges on $36 million in private dollars promised by the CenterStage Foundation. A quick recap: This is the same group, under another name, that blew through millions of dollars and was responsible for raising Richmond’s meals tax rate before its original, unsustainable proposal for a performing arts center was squashed.”

    “City leaders have confidence in the foundation. But it’s difficult to see why. CenterStage’s private fundraising did reach $2 million in 2011, but the 12-percent increase from the year before is almost entirely owed to a $200,000 government grant — not really private. Its just-released Internal Revenue Service forms also show that CenterStage ticket sales and parking fees declined 10 percent from 2010 to 2011, dropping from $205,000 to $184,000, with program expenses exceeding $2 million.

    Meanwhile, CenterStage’s payroll increased 22 percent, from $642,000 to $781,000 a year. The details of that figure, of course, remain top secret. The foundation is required to submit annual financial statements to the city, but both the foundation and the city decline to make them available to the public. They’re legally allowed to do this; it’s written in the comprehensive agreement, the same one approved by Wilder and City Council.”

    As for Landmark/Altria deal:

    “It’s been reported that only $14 million in public dollars will be invested. But the figure actually is closer to $30 million. Included in what’s called the private-fundraising side is an estimated $18 million in state and federal historic tax credits, which the foundation plans to use to finance the deal. This deal also hands over millions in Landmark corporate naming rights to the foundation, and since the theater is a city-owned facility, this is public money that is being given away (the city could independently sell these rights). Meanwhile, the mayor insists that he can’t address the city’s high meals and admission tax rates because the city is hurting for revenue.”

  14. I hope the renovations did something to address the horrendous acoustics in this place.

  15. Pat Torrence on said:

    You are “Very Richmond If…” you can’t handle any kind of change, such as the names of theaters; you’re more concerned with the name of a building than what the building stands for – in this case, the arts; you’re unable or unwilling to recognize and appreciate an important economic revenue source for our region because you’d rather have something to whine about.

    The building is a gem, its history is long and its potential is mind-boggling, and I am always proud to be able to take out-of-town guests there whenever possible. It never ceases to impress folks … except for a few ignorant locals who take it for granted.

  16. Mike Jasp on said:

    Well said Pat. Those few ignorant folks like to rant on the internet comment sections as well. Add to that a blatent inability to simply recognize that our communities larger employers often do good things, instead of demonizing everything their names are attached to.

  17. downtownwatch on said:

    Ahh, two of Virginia’s evilest corporations, coming together in a historic branding lollapolooza!

  18. Great. So despite the large amounts of money that two of our largest employers decided to donate to a gem of our little arts scene, you guys can’t get over their wish to get recognition for said donations. How many of you would have preferred to leave the theater – one of our few money-making arts venues – to deteriorate?

  19. Anon E. Mouse on said:

    Egads! Corporate welfare!

  20. Scott Burger on said:

    I have dutifully reported the Dominion donation, just like all the other Richmond media as if it were a press release.

    I will leave the critical thinking to my earlier comment on July 14. I believe it still stands, but I will leave it alone for now. It’s there for those who care to use their brain.

  21. Anon E. Mouse on said:


  22. Scott Burger on said:

    A lot of Richmond citizens do not find it funny in the least.

    Our cultural institutions keep getting corrupted by Center Stage:

    Our public water utility continues to overcharge residents with its minimum service charge, the highest in the country, in order to support the City ‘s general fund, which in turn continues to be raided by Center Stage and now the Redskins.

  23. Anon E. Mouse on said:

    I don’t find that funny, I find you hysterical.

  24. Scott Burger on said:

    That does not bother me.

  25. The same people who prefer to call the Landmark Theater the Mosque would be screaming bloody murder if there were a strip club called the Church.

  26. Still not as stupid as changing Richmond to RVA.

  27. RVA is a brand. Richmond was not changed to RVA.

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