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cityboi

Greensboro Coliseum plans for major expansions

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an artist rendering of what the front of the War Memorial Auditorium, electronic marquee and coliseum breezeway could look like if recommended upgrades are funded. I think while the coliseum is not downtown, its still only about a mile and a half west of downtown along Lee Street. Lee Street leads right to downtown. The Coliseum is still in an urban setting though. SOme have even suggested have a trolley line connecting the coliseum with downtown. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex already has a 23,500 seat arena, a mini-arena, convention and exhibition space and 2,000 plus seat auditorium for events like the Greensboro Symphony and broadway events. Such renovations to the auditorium could force Action Greensboro to abandon its plans for a state-of-the-art concert hall in downtown Greensboro. The Greensboro Coliseum is upgrading to stay competitive with new arenas in Charlotte and Raleigh. Most dont realize it but the Greensboro Coliseum was built in the 1950s and has already gone through 2 major renovations and upgrades since. Today the coliseum looks like it was built just a few years ago. There are also talks of adding an additional 2,000 fixed seats in the main arena bringing the seating capacity to 25,500. All this is to stay compatetive for the Mens and Womens ACC basketball tournament. The ACC is a part of Greensboro's brand image and the city will invest millions to hold on to that image and not lose it to other cities.

A developer has plans to build to hotels on adjacent land to the coliseum with a room total of almost 500 guest rooms. The hotel complex will include retail shops. Its very unusual for a city the size of Greensboro to have a large arena complex like this, especially without a major league sports tenant. Its just unheard of. Its competitive with many arenas in major cosmopolitan cities around the country and the Greensboro Coliseum is also a mile down the road from the 1,015 room, 28-story Sheraton Four Seasons/Joseph S. Koury Convention Center and Four Seasons Town Centre shopping mall. A restaurant row lines High Point Road between the Convention Center and the Coliseum.

City unveils coliseum plans

7-28-04

By Matt Williams, Staff Writer

News & Record

GREENSBORO -- City officials unveiled a plan Tuesday to fund $30 million in improvements to the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, including a banquet center, six-story parking deck, and renovations to War Memorial Auditorium.

Voters would likely be asked to authorize the city to borrow the money as early as 2006 if the plans move forward, City Manager Ed Kitchen said. He emphasized that the coliseum's plan is merely an early vision.

"You're going to see a number of proposed enhancements, but this is rather preliminary," he said.

The improvements are part of a wider master plan for additions to the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. They would be the first major work done on the 44-year-old auditorium. The changes would boost the seating capacity of the hall from 2,376 to 3,000, improve acoustics and update restrooms, at a cost of $15.6 million.

Alongside the auditorium, the plan envisions a $5.9 million banquet facility that would attach to the nearby arena. A luxury banquet hall is one of the many amenities sought by the Atlantic Coast Conference for host cities of its men's basketball tournament. It would also be open for other receptions and for auditorium patrons.

The plan also calls for an $8.6 million parking deck that would attach to the auditorium. Holding as many as 750 cars, it would provide separate parking for patrons when visitors to other events at the complex are occupying the main 5,200-space parking lot.

City Council members liked the early-stage plan and indicated they would support the renovations. Councilman Robbie Perkins said he wanted the city to move forward with the plan, saying the coliseum complex needs an investment to remain competitive.

"If you pictured Greensboro without the Greensboro Coliseum or a second-rate complex, it would be a lot different place," Perkins said. "It would be a less attractive place to live and recruit businesses."

Only four council members were present for the briefing Tuesday, but Perkins, Claudette Burroughs-White and Mayor Keith Holliday indicated they would support the plan.

In 1990, voters approved a $25.6 million bond package for the coliseum that added the Special Events Center and other improvements. At the same time, the city financed a $14 million expansion to the arena with private donations and a tax on hotel rooms. Voters rejected two previous coliseum-related bond projects.

Kitchen said he does not know whether the proposed renovations would force a tax increase but said any borrowing would have to be approved by a citywide referendum. Tax dollars already subsidize the coliseum's annual operating loss of about $1.8 million a year. Council members say the thousands of visitors it brings to the city pour millions of dollars into the local economy.

Coliseum Managing Director Matt Brown said the improvements would help keep the complex competitive and help its bottom line.

"Everything we're doing is about cutting costs or improving revenues," Brown said.

Many of the auditorium improvements stem from complaints by the Greensboro Symphony, which dislikes the auditorium's acoustics and amenities.

Symphony Executive Director Lisa Crawford said the sound in the hall is uneven and hurts performances.

When there are multiple events, Crawford said symphony patrons get caught between traffic for concerts and trade shows.

Unhappy with War Memorial, the symphony and downtown booster Action Greensboro commissioned a study last year to examine building a concert hall downtown. Action Greensboro Director Susan Schwartz said the report concluded such a concert hall would be prohibitively expensive.

Schwartz said her group would support improvements to War Memorial Auditorium.

"The city already has the investment out there and it would be a shame not to support it," Schwartz said. "We care about downtown, but not at the expense of the rest of the community."

The auditorium improvements, banquet hall and parking deck represent the first wave of improvements envisioned in the complex's master plan, which was approved by the coliseum's advisory board, the War Memorial Commission.

Later plans, beginning 10 years from now, call for more exhibition hall space, widening the arena's upper concourse and adding about 2,000 seats to the 23,500-seat main arena. The plan does not include cost estimates for the later improvements.

The master plan was drawn up by the same architecture firm hired to design the coliseum's last expansion, Altanta-based Rosser International. Architect John Wyle said the latest improvements would tie together the complex's venues.

"It gives me a chance to finish what we started 10 years ago," Wyle said. "We stopped short of what this facility could be."

War Memorial Commission Chairman Dick Grubar urged the council to adopt the recommendations to match competition from the state's other major cities.

"The coliseum cannot afford to fall below the standards set by new arenas in Raleigh and Charlotte," Grubar said.

Kitchen said he would ask the council to add the renovations to the city's schedule of major construction projects.

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Greensboro Coliseum dedicated October 25, 1959 - arena seating capacity- 9,000 The site of the coliseum use to be a race track.

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Greensboro Coliseum Complex (in 2000) arena seating capacity - 23,500

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The auditorium has 2,000 plu seats

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The coliseum complex has well over 100,000 sqaure feet of convention space for trade shows.

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Completed in March of 2003, the Pavilion is a permanent fabric walled structure located adjacent to the Complex's Special Events Center. The Pavilion provides 30,000 square feet of column-free exhibition space and is fullly heated and air conditioned.

The Pavilion was used to host the Atlantic Coast Conference's interactive FanFest area for the 2003 Women's and Men's ACC Basketball Tournaments. The venue has also been used to host concerts, consumer shows, automobile manufacturers new vehcile introductions and is the permanent home of the Coliseum's own Super Flea Bazaar

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The Carlyle Club - premium arena seating

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The coliseium has 24 luxury suites

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