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City’s Capital Program Makes Asheville Civic Center More Sustainable

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – A leaky Asheville Civic Center roof will soon be replaced by a better looking and better insulated roof, as the city’s capital improvement program will give the center energy-efficiency investments over the next five years.

The $1.5 million dollar-roof project began at the end of September and is scheduled to be completed in early January, with contractors taking breaks for heavy rains and to make way for upcoming entertainment acts, such as the Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam, an annual arena sell out.

“The economic impact the center has on the city of Asheville is significant. Ninety percent of tickets for the Christmas Jam will be purchased from outside of North Carolina,” said interim Civic Center Director Dan Dover. “This past year alone we had more than a quarter of a million attendees, and that figure is on the low side considering the constant exchange of people we have for events such as Bele Chere.”

The center is the largest facility in Western North Carolina with the 7,200-person capacity Arena, the 2,431-person capacity Thomas Wolf Auditorium, the 450-person capacity Banquet Hall and 25,000 square-feet Exhibit Hall.

“The roof project is one of the largest capital investments the facility has seen since 1975 when the civic center was built and the auditorium remodeled,” said Dover, who has worked for the Civic Center for nearly 11 years.

Thus far, workers have removed most of the old roof and put down a temporary one so the upper concrete columns can be power washed and cracks sealed against further weather damage. After the structural repairs are made, insulation will be laid that is nearly double the previous amount, and the new roof will be installed over it. The fading brown cornish trim on the roof will also be removed and replaced.

These new improvements will remove mold growth, increase the facility’s energy efficiency and allow staff to remove the tarps that have been hanging from the arena ceiling and catching drips for the past three years.

In addition to the roof project, $250,000 in capital funds budgeted for the Civic Center this year will be spread out over various projects according to the most pressing facility needs. Other smaller capital projects recently completed include an upgraded fire alarm system and new smoke hatches in the stage area of the auditorium. The portable-basketball court flooring is currently being refinished and painted so it is ready for the annual Globetrotter visit and the Crossfire Ministries.

The arena is also getting an upgraded electrical system to meet the changing requirements for incoming acts. The installment of three 400-amp three-phase 208 disc connects for additional electrical power will be necessary to accommodate Disney on Ice’s Thanksgiving week show, where they will need the power to run their ice plant.

“The city is investing resources to address deferred maintenance and improve the facility so that the condition of the building matches the quality of the entertainment it attracts,” said Asheville’s Vice Mayor Jan Davis, who serves as the City Council liaison to the Civic Center Commission. “We want to enhance the patrons’ experience at the Civic Center while managing its operations within our financial means.”

While the roof replacement is the facility’s largest immediate project, the Civic Center has mapped out a five-year capital plan to help sustain the quality of services it has been offering. Meeting basic codes, improving energy efficiencies, and improving sound and lighting to meet the changing needs of entertainment acts are all part of this plan.

Once the roof is complete, work will begin on the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium fire exit, to improve egress from the building. The stage lighting controls and fixtures with 1970’s technology also need to be replaced with more efficient ones that will have an anticipated two to three year payback on energy savings.

While the Asheville Civic Center is continually making improvements, it is still very much in high demand, turning down as many acts as it books because dates requested are already booked. It offers a special service to the Asheville area, bringing groups from the community together and groups from outside the area in, positively impacting the economy of the area.

The Asheville Civic Center is a regional destination for outstanding entertainment, trade shows and events. The Civic Center offers Western North Carolina diverse entertainment from rock concerts and sporting events to family shows and performing arts. The facility is the heart of downtown Asheville’s arts and entertainment scene. For more information on facilities and events, please visit www.AshevilleCivicCenter.com

Andre Agassi to Play at Civic Center

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Andre Agassi

ASHEVILLE, NC – According to the website www.grandslamasheville.com, tennis sensation Andre Agassi will be playing an exhibition match at the Asheville Civic Center on August 28th. The original exhibition was to have taken place on August 6th and feature Marat Safin and Nivak Djokovic. Djokovic pulled out of the match and as a result the tournament was forced to move to later date with Agassi stepping in to play Safin.

From 1987 until his retirement in 2006, Agassi amassed 60 singles career titles, and he won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

He spent a total of 101 weeks at #1, including 52 consecutive weeks from September 1999 through September 2000. He won eight Grand Slam titles, becoming – in 1999 – only the fifth male player to win all four majors: Wimbledon (1992), US Open (1994), Australian Open (1995) and the French Open (1999). (Roger Federer is the only male player to join that roster since Agassi).

For more information visit, www.grandslamasheville.com.

Asheville Civic Center to Host Rare Tennis Exhibition Between World’s Best

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – Two of the world’s top tennis players are set to do battle on Thursday, August 6, at the Asheville Civic Center. Grand Slam Asheville will bring together world-ranked #4 and 2008 Australian Open Champion Novak Djokovic and former world-ranked #1 and two-time Grand Slam Champion Marat Safin for a head-to-head, best-of-three-sets match.

“This event is a unique opportunity to watch some of the world’s best tennis players compete,” said Brian Woods, the event’s promoter and a local sports agent. “There has not been a tennis event of this caliber in Western North Carolina before. We are looking forward to a tremendous star-studded night at the Asheville Civic Center, one that tennis fans won’t want to miss.”

Grand Slam Asheville will also feature local tennis talent. Asheville’s very own Maya Blue Stauffer-MacDowell will go up against a player currently ranked in the top 100 in the Women’s Tennis Association. The 16 year-old Stauffer-MacDowell is a rising senior at T.C. Roberson High School and one of the top junior players in the Southeast.

Tickets go on sale July 6 through Ticketmaster and at the Civic Center box office. A portion of proceeds will benefit Mission Children’s Hospital.

Special VIP ticket packages, including VIP courtside seating and admission to the VIP reception and silent auction hosted by the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, are available now. For information on the VIP reception, contact Alicia Kramer at (404) 433-1088.

Asheville Phish Show Recounted

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Phish Concert

Story compliments of JamBase.com

ASHEVILLE, NC – Asheville’s hype hinted at a destined special show from the get-go, and Phish seemed to share the sentiment throughout a raging summer evening in the mountains. Surprisingly, the band had never played North Carolina’s most forward-thinking, jam band-friendly town, perhaps for lack of a sizeable venue. The “mini Hampton” atmosphere of the Asheville Civic Center proved a tough ticket for the fans, but a rare treat for the 7,600 folks lucky enough to make it through the door.

Phish’s first set embraced the cozy confines with an "evening with" demeanor, emphasized by Trey’s acknowledgement of a "VH1 Storyteller" moment when he introduced "Dog Faced Boy," revealing its origins in a secret look he and Mike took at Fishman’s journal. The drummer left his kit and lied on the ground as his bandmates performed the rarity a capella. A highly danceable, albeit brief "Gumbo" followed before "Tube," closing out a three-pack Trey announced had all been birthed from that journal peak. Fishman then accommodated Trey’s prodding with a solo rendition of "Lengthwise" – "a true story," he said repeatedly.

The show started right at eight. Having heard good things but never heard the track, Phish’s decision to open the show with "Kill Devil Falls," a new track they’d played twice in Jones Beach, provided a fun introduction. The song rocks like "Chalkdust" in its build – Trey’s favorite song to play, he said in 2000.

"Kill Devil’s" rock & roll opened nicely for a super funky "Moma Dance," followed by a "Sample" accentuated by a raunchy solo from Trey. "Stash" was met with huge crowd approval, as Chris Kuroda took the rainbow lights for a walk through the crowd, a color scheme he returned to frequently throughout the night.

After Fishman wrapped up his journal segment with "Lengthwise," the opening strains of "The Divided Sky" rang through the intimate venue. I don’t notice flubs like some critical listeners, but the band seemed to execute the opus without flaw. Page dropped in hard and smooth on his segment before the flying and soaring segment of the song, leading into an absolutely over-the-top energy to "Sky’s" finale.

Mike brought things back to earth with a honky-tonk cover of Bill Monroe’s "When the Cactus is in Bloom," before Page took over vocals for "Bold As Love." The last strains of daylight faded through the windows visible from the floor, and the band left stage after 75 minutes with a party atmosphere thoroughly stirred up.

Phish returned with "Backwards Down the Number Line," a song that has proven a solid addition to the repertoire. "Ghost" showed us the tight funk, with a spacey, almost didgeridoo-like section added to the jammed out performance. Trey peaked the song once before it got even hotter about ten minutes in with a climax that left jaws agape. "Fast Enough For You" continued the blazing guitar licks before a very fun, loose "Halley’s Comet."

"Maze" countered well, coming in low and scary. Page took the chance to show off, before the song went totally haywire. "Nuts," said the dude to my left, and, "So sick," came from my right. Arguably the night’s highlight, "Maze" was ridiculous in its intensity.

And back to sing-songiness. "Alaska" continued the trend of new songs that start off lyric heavy then follow a simple build to allow for epic guitar solos at the end – not surprising since the song came from Trey’s solo repertoire. Rhyming "Alaska" with "I’ll aska" in a 2009 Phish song? The jury’s still out, but a nice fat mama guitar riff followed the line, "Just when I thought I’d end up alone, big ‘ol Alaskan mama come walkin’ down the road," providing some redemption for the track.

"Theme from the Bottom" was performed straight, before dropping right into a rollicking "Golgi Apparatus." Any show with two songs from Junta is a treat, and considering the difficulty fans had finding tickets for Asheville, the "ticket stub in your hand" line had everyone inside smiling big. "Possum" came out like a train, and by the peak it was obvious this was the set closer. Set break had brought two warnings from the fire marshal not to hang over the railings in the seats, a request that may have worked for a bit but was completely disregarded by the raging "Possum."

"Loving Cup" proved a fitting encore, and again it was evident in its intensity that this was likely a one-song finale. Phish has made the Stones’ tune their own, and unleashed an energy for this performance even beyond that at the Hampton shows in March.

In set one, Phish approached the small Asheville Civic Center like an intimate theater show, highlighted by Trey’s story of secretly lifting lyrics from Fishman’s journal. Set two brought the funky power. The band’s closest brush with an extended exploration came during "Ghost," but overall they seem content to focus on executing songs perfectly and letting jams work their way in – a welcome approach after the sloppiness of 2004. The Asheville setlist wasn’t necessarily tailored to touring ("Tube" two nights in a row, three "Kill Devil Falls" in a week), but it stands alone well. Phish is clearly having fun, and both the fans inside and the ticketless crowd outside certainly hope they’ll keep Asheville on the radar for tours to come.

Bonnie Raitt Coming to Asheville

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – Bonnie Raitt will be coming to the Asheville Civic Center on Tuesday, March 17th.

More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter, Bonnie Raitt has become an institution in American music. The recent release of Souls Alike is her 18th album.

Tickets can be purchased at the Civic Center box office or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.