The gifts were announced at a press conference yesterday and reported in today's editions of The Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale.
"I don't think anybody has given more to this community than the Knight Foundation and Carnival," said Miami Performing Arts Center Foundation chairman Sherwood Weiser at the event.
The Carnival pledge comes on top of an earlier gift of $10 million which had earned the company naming rights to one of the Miami PAC's three venues, a 2,200-seat concert hall. With the new contribution and the renaming of the entire complex for the cruise line, the name of the concert hall was made available for the Knight Foundation, which donated an additional $7 million on top of an earlier $3 million gift.
The Carnival Center's 2,400-seat opera house has already been named for local philanthropists Sanford and Dolores Ziff, who gave $10 million toward the cost of the building. The center's 200-seat playhouse is as yet unnamed.
Carnival's $20 million gift will be paid over eight years, the Herald reported.
These latest donations bring the total of private funds raised for the Carnival Center by the Miami PAC Foundation to $83.7 million, according to the Herald. Of that amount, approximately $50 million will be paid to Miami-Dade County for construction costs. The remainder of the building costs will be paid out of public finds, principally the Miami-Dade County hotel occupancy tax and the city of Miami's Community Redevelopment Fund.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the initial budget for the center, as approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission in 1990, was $165 million. Over the subsequent 16 years, due to design changes arising from increased expectations as well as inflation, the expected cost has grown to nearly $450 million.
The project has suffered from intense criticism at various points over the years from cost overruns and construction delays. The center's CEO, Michael Hardy, stressed at yesterday's press conference that the high-profile gifts from Carnival and the Knight Foundation lend legitimacy to the project. "They serve to really validate the concept of a public-private partnership," the Herald quoted him as saying, "not just because of the size of the gifts but because of the reputations of the donors."
The new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, with architecture by Cesar Pelli and acoustics by Russell Johnson's firm Artec Consultants, is scheduled for completion on August 4. The center's gala opening weekend, with performances by resident companies the New World Symphony, the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet, is set for October 5-8.