U.S. Cellular Center prepares for audience of conferences and trade shows

The U.S. Cellular Center continues to evolve and make upgrades to improve downtown Asheville’s largest entertainment venue. Already, the U.S. Cellular Center has made strides in attracting big name acts and sports. Sold out shows like the annual Christmas Jam continue to garner national attention, while the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament recently announced that it would continue to take place there through the 2017 season.

And while the most visible construction project remains the refurbishment of the front entrance and lobby, another upgrade inside will enhance the center’s ability to expand into another market as a convention center.

Thanks to an $800,000 award from the Tourism Development Authority, the U.S. Cellular Center is renovating its 87,000 square foot convention space and adding seven breakout meeting rooms. Additionally, renovations on the banquet hall have already been completed. That, says the center’s General Manager Chris Corl, will make it more attractive to national conventions.

“Just getting the word out about the renovations has generated interest,” Corl says. Conventions represent a significant revenue source, and unlike most big entertainment events, they take place during weekdays. That means more active days inside the center and more business during typically slower months.

“This helps with our goal of having no ‘dark days,’ and to make us have less of an off season.” Corl says.

Drawing convention and trade show crowds to Asheville also has an economic impact to the city, and the U.S. Cellular Center’s downtown location means that visitors there will also spend money in nearby restaurants and shops, and stay in local hotels. Such a boost, Corl says, is estimated to produce 5,025 additional hotel room stays in the first year.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase Asheville’s downtown,” Corl adds.

As an added attraction, the breakout rooms will double as club seating for events in the center’s arena. For events like the SoCon tournament and concerts Corl expects there to be a big demand for club seating.

Construction on the convention area and rooms is expected to be completed this winter.

The U.S. Cellular Center is undergoing many enhancements now and in the near future, including a new basketball court, new restrooms, box office and lobby reconfiguration and more thanks to funding from the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, U.S. Cellular. Additional funding from the ABC Board contributes to educational programming.

For information about the U.S. Cellular Center, including upcoming events and venue information, go to www.USCellularCenterAsheville.com.