ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The Asheville Civic Center has been awarded a $2 million dollar grant, to be funded over a 4-year period, from the Tourism Product Development Fund of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, the City announced today. The grant will help fund a proposed $5.45 million dollar renovation of the Asheville Civic Center. The Tourism Product Development Fund, which is funded through the Buncombe County hotel occupancy tax, is dedicated to projects that will increase tourism and overnight lodging.
The Southern Conference announced in June that the league's men's and women's basketball tournament in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The women's tournament will begin at UNC Asheville's Kimmel Arena and will move to the Civic Center for the semifinals and championship game. Asheville's Civic Center served as the host site for the SoCon basketball tournament from 1984-1995.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy noted: "This is an incredible opportunity. The Asheville Civic Center is an important economic engine for our city and our region. These funds will allow us to greatly improve the facility -- and these improvements will benefit local residents and tourists alike."
The proposed Civic Center improvements include new seating for the lower level of the arena, renovating the balcony seating and flooring, improving the locker rooms and dressing rooms, upgrading the lighting, messaging and sound systems in the arena, concourse renovations, and information technology improvements. The City of Asheville recently issued a Request for Qualifications for architectural and engineering services to begin the renovation process.
Sam Powers, Director of the city's Office of Economic Development and Director of the Asheville Civic Center, commented: "This grant will play a major role in making our facilities better for fans, performers and promoters. We attract more than 200,000 patrons a year -- and our research shows that over 70% of our ticket sales come from outside of Buncombe County. These visitors stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and support local businesses. The Civic Center generates a substantial economic impact. It is an asset worth investing in. We are thrilled that the Tourism Development Authority, Buncombe County and the City are coming together as partners in this project."
The Asheville Civic Center first opened its doors 36-years ago and has hosted everything from concerts, plays, trade shows and sporting events to local high school graduations. Mike Burke, Chairman of the Asheville Civic Center Commission, noted that, "Even though the arena is in its fourth decade of use it has good bones. Our project will add new life to the building and allow us to be even more competitive as a regional entertainment venue."