NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT: Governor John G. Rowland gave the Long Wharf Theater another reason to celebrate yesterday on its 40th anniversary: Hours before the theater held a gala fundraising dinner, the governor announced at a press conference that the State of Connecticut is committing $30 million to help fund the construction of a new Long Wharf Theatre facility in downtown New Haven.

"This milestone project will bring new arts and education energy to downtown New Haven, helping to define it for years to come," said Rowland. "We have proven across the state that this formula for urban revitalization works. We are proud to be continuing our investment in the future and the people of New Haven. It is New Haven's time."

Long Wharf Theatre has leased its current facility since its founding in 1965, and that lease will expire in 2010. The new theater complex will be built on the site currently occupied by the New Haven Coliseum, a long-closed sports and entertainment arena that will be demolished next year. Located at Church and Orange Streets, the site is adjacent to New Haven's redeveloped Ninth Square District, featuring restaurants, shops, and night life venues; the district is a short walk from downtown New Haven and the Yale University Campus.

The state grant announced yesterday rounds off a private campaign to raise $20-$30 million in additional funds required to build the new Long Wharf facility while growing the theater's endowment sufficiently to cover increased operating expenses. The Long Wharf Theatre Building Committee will be finalizing negotiations with the City of New Haven and will identify an architect to design the new facility over the next several months.

Beginning its 40th season in September 2004, Long Wharf Theatre is one of American's leading regional theaters. Several of its productions have transfered to Broadway. The recipient four Tony Awards, Long Wharf also has the honor of having originated three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays.