Merrillville graduation

Madison Blackwell hugs Steffan Santiago during Merrillville High School's graduation ceremony at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville earlier this year.

Janel Contreras, The Times

Our Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra deserves a home venue to anchor its incredible quality-of-life offerings to our Region.

Countless Region high school graduates deserve an adequate stage and auditorium in which to celebrate one of the most important days in the lives of students and their parents.

Before we know it, we'll be losing one of the chief venues for these important Northwest Indiana entertainment assets and rites of passage.

By now, most of us know the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville is slated to close and be demolished sometime after the final holiday concert series.

It's all part of a changing business model and new direction for the former hotel and theater site owned and operated by the White family's lodging business.

Evolution to remain relevant is necessary in both life and commerce.

We also know the theater has filled a proven need throughout the years, hosting graduation ceremonies for scores of high school students and serving as home base to the symphony.

Region community and tourism leaders — both private and public sector — should be planning in earnest for life after the Star Plaza meets the wrecking ball.

There is no better time than now to be discussing the prospects of a future Northwest Indiana event center.

Our symphony is enjoyed by folks from within and outside of our Region every year.

Though the school year just began, the parents among us will be able to attest to just how fleeting time is between now and our children moving on to the next chapter of their educations.

We know schools can and will use an event center as the staging grounds for graduation ceremonies for hundreds, even thousands, of Region students.

Much needs to be clarified on how big the facility should be, its specific features and where it should be optimally located.

But the overall need and utility already is proven. It's time to put the concept on the pathway to reality.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.