It's wonderful to have it done. I think the public will enjoy it very much.

ST. CLOUD - The new seats are ready for their debut. Paramount Theater Executive Director Bob Johnson says everyone who worked on the project did a great job.

There are 91 additional seats in the theater. A total of 806 new seats were installed. All of these seats are three inches higher then the previous ones.

"Which will give everyone a little more legroom by virtue of being up a little bit," says Johnson.

There are also raised arms on six seats along the aisle, three on each side. Johnson says this allows for wheelchair transfers, as well as a little more comfort for whoever is seating in the seat. The project also added bariatric seating, permanent seats for ushers, and the wheelchair seating has been moved in from the edge of the aisle to allow for a better view of the stage.

Johnson says, "We also put four wheel chair seats down in the first row so if folks who are using wheelchairs wanted to be right in the front where they can see the action then they can do that." 

Cup holders were also added which Johnson says is something they didn't have in the past.

"We want [guests] to come in and enjoy those drinks and relax, and still be able to clap. So the cup holders will be really nice," says Johnson.

If you head into the Paramount Theater, you'll also know a color change.

"We chose the red because of its richness," says Johnson, "The backs of the seats are walnut, wood rather then metal, and the arms are all walnut as well. So it's quite a nice seat compared to what we had in the past."

(Photo Courtesy: Andrew Walesch)

The first show with the new seats will feature the Andrew Walesch Big Band playing 100 Years of Sinatra. A reception for seat sponsors will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. There will be two shows at 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Johnson says the Paramount Theater will be showing the new seats to over 1,000 people during these shows.

Johnson added there are 650 seats currently sponsored, and there is still an opportunity to sponsor a seat if you'd like to.

"We have 806 total in the theater, so there's still an opportunity to sponsor seats," says Johnson.

(Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON)