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Possible downtown arena

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I was surprised to read an article in the Herald-Journal this morning that said that a local group of private individuals, legislators and USC Upstate have started exploring the possibility of a downtown arena.  It would be a multipurpose complex that would cater to sports, entertainment, convention and other big events (concerts, graduations, etc).  They are gauging interest (should have a report in a month) and looking to do a feasibility study.  USC Upstate would be a tenant.  No site has been chosen, but they're considering land at Renaissance Park.

 

I'd love to see something like this, but it seems like a stretch.  I think we'd be one of the smallest cities with an arena.  And with one in Greenville already, it would be difficult to compete.  And how big would it be?  Upstate doesn't have a huge basketball following, and they would be the only permanent tenant.  But to get touring concerts (and to fit graduations) it would probably need to be 8,000-10,000 seats.

 

What do you guys think?  Is there any comparable city with an arena (maybe Asheville)?  Do you think a venue like this could be successful?

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I was surprised to read an article in the Herald-Journal this morning that said that a local group of private individuals, legislators and USC Upstate have started exploring the possibility of a downtown arena.  It would be a multipurpose complex that would cater to sports, entertainment, convention and other big events (concerts, graduations, etc).  They are gauging interest (should have a report in a month) and looking to do a feasibility study.  USC Upstate would be a tenant.  No site has been chosen, but they're considering land at Renaissance Park.

 

I'd love to see something like this, but it seems like a stretch.  I think we'd be one of the smallest cities with an arena.  And with one in Greenville already, it would be difficult to compete.  And how big would it be?  Upstate doesn't have a huge basketball following, and they would be the only permanent tenant.  But to get touring concerts (and to fit graduations) it would probably need to be 8,000-10,000 seats.

 

What do you guys think?  Is there any comparable city with an arena (maybe Asheville)?  Do you think a venue like this could be successful?

Florence SC has an arena that seats up to 9700 for concerts and 7500 for sporting events. They have an ECHL team and many concerts. Florence is a much smaller market and would compete with Columbia and Myrtle Beach for conventions more than Spartanburg would with Greenville in my opinion.

I could see this happening in conjunction with the new limited service hotel that is in the works for Renaissance Park.

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Florence does not have an ECHL team.

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^^They used to though, right?

This would be very interesting to watch if it happened. Think about it: the upstate of SC would have 3 decent sized arenas between BS in Greenville, Littlejohn in Clemson, and a potential option in Spartanburg. This of course excludes large outdoor venues for concerts like Heritage Park in Simpsonville. I'll be interested to read their findings.

Edited by GvilleSC

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I think a minor league park downtown would be more feasible than an arena but I don't want to open that can or worms again since we have awesome Duncan Park.

 

I'd just continue trying to improve the auditorium as most of you on this board are all about improving & preserving old buildings and that one is old.

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I think a minor league park downtown would be more feasible than an arena but I don't want to open that can or worms again since we have awesome Duncan Park.

 

I'd just continue trying to improve the auditorium as most of you on this board are all about improving & preserving old buildings and that one is old.

The auditorium is good for what it is (a venue for stage events) but not appropriate for sporting events, circuses, and concerts.  That said, an arena, or even the idea, is something I think the community ought to coalesce around.  We have this huge chunk of land (Renaissance Park) so why not use it?

 

This announcement was a surprise to me too and I haven't had much time to think it through. 

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I kind of agree with Roads, but with the BiLo Center 30 miles away its gonna be tough to attract anything decent. Why would the SoCon for instance have a tournament here (even if their offices are here) when you have the BiLo Center that holds more folks, more hotels & restaurants, etc. in Greenville? They already have everything we would want and its a half hour away. Why spend that kind of dough to try and mimic them?

 

I think its a non starter and there are other ways to use that land.

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Yeah, I'm concerned that with the BSWA so close, our arena would just be used for graduations and a few other isolated events (nothing consistent).  I can't think of anywhere else with two small/medium-sized cities in close proximity where both have an arena (excluding university arenas).  Raleigh has an arena, Durham doesn't; Greensboro has one, Winston-Salem doesn't.

 

Honestly, Sparkleman, I would also rather have a new minor league baseball stadium.  I understand Duncan Park wouldn't be suitable for a new team (though it should still be preserved - see Durham's DAP and DBAP).  The problem with that is the MiLB distance requirement (two teams can't be within 35? miles of each other), so the Greenville Drive would have to give their approval.

 

If the people behind this idea have several million dollars (that an arena would cost) burning a hole in their pockets, could they please buy and renovate the Montgomery Building?

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I personally don't think that the State should spend any money on a speculative idea like this, so I'm glad that Governor Haley vetoed it from the budget.

 

 

I kind of agree with Roads, but with the BiLo Center 30 miles away its gonna be tough to attract anything decent. Why would the SoCon for instance have a tournament here (even if their offices are here) when you have the BiLo Center that holds more folks, more hotels & restaurants, etc. in Greenville? They already have everything we would want and its a half hour away. Why spend that kind of dough to try and mimic them?

 

I think its a non starter and there are other ways to use that land.

 

If the South Carolina legislature would take their collective heads out of their collective rear ends and move the Confederate flag elsewhere, our state would be eligible to host post season college athletics tournaments. Then, the arena might make some sense.

 

 

Yeah, I'm concerned that with the BSWA so close, our arena would just be used for graduations and a few other isolated events (nothing consistent).  I can't think of anywhere else with two small/medium-sized cities in close proximity where both have an arena (excluding university arenas).  Raleigh has an arena, Durham doesn't; Greensboro has one, Winston-Salem doesn't.

 

Honestly, Sparkleman, I would also rather have a new minor league baseball stadium.  I understand Duncan Park wouldn't be suitable for a new team (though it should still be preserved - see Durham's DAP and DBAP).  The problem with that is the MiLB distance requirement (two teams can't be within 35? miles of each other), so the Greenville Drive would have to give their approval.

 

If the people behind this idea have several million dollars (that an arena would cost) burning a hole in their pockets, could they please buy and renovate the Montgomery Building?

 

 

It could be a smaller arena, more like Asheville's that holds 10k, as opposed to Greenville's which holds 16k or so. There is some merit to the idea that a real arena could host a different type of event than the venues we have now, and probably not have to compete directly with Greenville. I'm personally a little skeptical that it could work, but it's great to know that people believe in the idea and are exploring options.

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Another brief story on the arena confirms that stakeholders are still looking to move forward despite the state funding veto.  As far as arena size goes, John Perry of USC Upstate claims that, "smaller is better for a large number of acts that come up and down 85."  An arena would likely cost upward of $30 million.  And he said they would likely look for state funding again next year.

 

I think we're all a little skeptical about this idea, but I'd be interested to see the findings of their feasibility study and more specific details about the facility.

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Another brief story on the arena confirms that stakeholders are still looking to move forward despite the state funding veto.  As far as arena size goes, John Perry of USC Upstate claims that, "smaller is better for a large number of acts that come up and down 85."  An arena would likely cost upward of $30 million.  And he said they would likely look for state funding again next year.

 

I think we're all a little skeptical about this idea, but I'd be interested to see the findings of their feasibility study and more specific details about the facility.

Agree.  Let's stop being skeptical about big projects that are proposed.  This thing could be pulled off and be a success.

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Agree.  Let's stop being skeptical about big projects that are proposed.  This thing could be pulled off and be a success.

Agreed..... I can see it work and I can also see it spur the other things downtown that are so needed........Additonal restaurant, retail and living possibilities....

This could very well be the development that gets the attention of the Ale house, Mast General, Sticky Fingers types that then fuel the demand for downtown living, limited service hotels etc.........

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I want to point out that there is a difference between 'skeptical' and 'cautiously optimistic.' I would love to see something like this work, as I think it would be a huge boon for downtown businesses if done well, and acts can be regularly scheduled. Small time college basketball won't be enough, and this arena needs to find a way to distinguish itself from Greenville's arena somehow.

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I still am very skeptical here. Why is John Perry of USC Upstate pushing this? A nicer arena is not going to make me want to watch Upstate play basketball any more than I already do which is none. Heck I am a huge Gamecock fan but I have not been inside the Colonial Life center in 10 years.

 

Again, anything worth a salt (sports, wrestling, theatre, etc.) is going to Greenville, not coming here instead.

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I still am very skeptical here. Why is John Perry of USC Upstate pushing this? A nicer arena is not going to make me want to watch Upstate play basketball any more than I already do which is none. Heck I am a huge Gamecock fan but I have not been inside the Colonial Life center in 10 years.

 

Again, anything worth a salt (sports, wrestling, theatre, etc.) is going to Greenville, not coming here instead.

An entertainment venue loses its appeal with promoters once it's amenities are no longer state-of-the-art.  For sure, the Greenville arena is nice but how long will it be nice?  When it opened in 1998 it was state of the art.  From what I can tell, it is probably still state-of-the-art. 

 

But, how long will it remain that way?  For that reason I think the time is absolutely right for Spartanburg to begin planning a first class entertainment venue (notice that i said entertainment venue, not just a sports venue) as a possible replacement for the Greenville facility.  This might seem laughable to some but I think it makes sense to begin thinking this way.  Spartanburg ought to have been doing that when the Greenville Memorial Auditorium (seating capacity 6500). was looking pretty old and tired and nobody in Greenville could agree on the (1) funding, (2) location, (3) design of a new arena.

 

Regarding USC-Upstate, one of the reasons their men's basketball program is mediocre and draw small crowds is because they play in what amounts to a high school gym.  Its pretty tough to attract top notch talent when you play in a high school gym.  Moreover, its not an attractive venue for spectators either! 

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Greenville's arena is going through a multi year multi million dollar renovation right now so yeah it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Spartanburg needs an venue that can attract crowds other than the auditorium. A baseball stadium downtown or this arena are the only things that I can think of that get Spartanburg to the next level. I think a baseball stadium is out for now, so the arena may be the

best chance for us to get our downtown the traffic needed for additional shops, restaurants, hotels, which would then fuel demand for additonal hotels, housing etc.

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An entertainment venue loses its appeal with promoters once it's amenities are no longer state-of-the-art.  For sure, the Greenville arena is nice but how long will it be nice?  When it opened in 1998 it was state of the art.  From what I can tell, it is probably still state-of-the-art. 

 

But, how long will it remain that way?  For that reason I think the time is absolutely right for Spartanburg to begin planning a first class entertainment venue (notice that i said entertainment venue, not just a sports venue) as a possible replacement for the Greenville facility.  This might seem laughable to some but I think it makes sense to begin thinking this way.  Spartanburg ought to have been doing that when the Greenville Memorial Auditorium (seating capacity 6500). was looking pretty old and tired and nobody in Greenville could agree on the (1) funding, (2) location, (3) design of a new arena.

 

Regarding USC-Upstate, one of the reasons their men's basketball program is mediocre and draw small crowds is because they play in what amounts to a high school gym.  Its pretty tough to attract top notch talent when you play in a high school gym.  Moreover, its not an attractive venue for spectators either! 

 

Interesting thoughts! Duke plays in a glorified gym and does pretty well with it :)

 

Kidding aside, do you think USCS athletics would be that much of a draw if they had a larger capacity venue? I honestly don't have a good feel for how well their athletics programs are attended. If it would truly help them build their program then that's a huge bonus in my mind.

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