The Crown Center in Fayetteville is moving closer to a change from public management to private management. On Monday the Cumberland County Civic Center Board of Commissioners made public three proposals from private companies that are requesting to manage the center.
Board Chairman George Turner said there is some hope that private management could save the county millions of dollars.
Turner said discussion of privatizing management came up this spring when he asked a consulting company to review the Crown Center, which includes a coliseum, theater, arena and agri-expo center. He said Johnson Consulting, of Chicago, compared the Crown to eight other similar complexes in the southeast. The study found none of the complexes are self-sufficient. They all need some amount of subsidy from the county government where they each are located.
However, the study found most other counties pay about $1 million each year to support their respective civic center complexes, while Cumberland County has recently paid about $3 million each year to keep the Crown running.
Turner said there is an expectation that the county would pay for some of the center because the purpose of the complex is to improve quality of life for citizens of the county. In exchange for the tax dollars contributed to the Crown, citizens should have an opportunity to attend events they enjoy at the complex he said.
"This is a quality of life issue if you live in our area, but it is also an expense to the taxpayer," Turner said.
Based on the findings of the consulting company, Turner and the other commissioners on the Civic Center Board hope private management will be able to attract more big events, which would bring in more money to the center and reduce the amount the county contributes.
"What we need at the coliseum is the ability to attract and hold the entertainers that Cumberland County wants to see," Turner said.
Turner explained that a private management company may pull more weight when trying to attract big events. In the example of a big-name musical artist, a company that manages several venues may be able to get Fayetteville included in a tour if several other stops at other venues are part of the deal.
Turner said the commissioners will review each company's proposal thoroughly before deciding if the Crown Center will change to private management and if so which company will be chosen.
The three companies that have presented requests to manage the Crown Center are:
Venue Works – based in Ames, Iowa (Its closest venue is the Convocation Center at California University of Pennsylvania, in California, Pa.)
Global Spectrum – headquartered in Glastonbury, Conn. and Philadelphia, Pa. (Its closest venue is the Durham Convention Center.)
SMG – based in West Conshohocken, Pa. (Its closest venues include the Florence (S.C.) Civic Center, the Wilmington Civic Center and the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary.)
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>