Northern Arizona University (NAU) opened the second phase of the Creative Arts Center in 1972. The theater is designed for major productions for use by the university and the local community. NAU formally named the building Ardrey Auditorium in 1975 to honor Dr. Eldon A. Ardrey, first Dean of the College of Creative Arts.
Dr. Ardrey joined the college in 1931. Ardrey played a significant role in musical activities and education. He founded the Shrine of the Ages Choir, which sings at the Grand Canyon on Easter Sunday sunrise services.
Audiences have enjoyed performances at Ardrey Auditorium by the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, the NAU School of Music, and world-renowned performers including Jerry Seinfeld, the Lord of the Dance, and the Vienna Boys Choir.