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Charleston Civic Center: Wikis


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Charleston Civic Center
Address 200 Civic Center Drive
Coordinates 38°21′19″N 81°38′29″W / 38.35519°N 81.64152°W / 38.35519; -81.64152Coordinates: 38°21′19″N 81°38′29″W / 38.35519°N 81.64152°W / 38.35519; -81.64152
Type Indoor arena, convention center, and theater
Opened 1959
Location Charleston, West Virginia
Owner City of Charleston
Renovated 1964, 1980
Expanded 1980
Seating type Reserved seating
Capacity 13,000 (arena), 750 (theater)

The Charleston Civic Center is a municipal complex located in the downtown area of Charleston, West Virginia. Originally completed in 1959 at the cost of $2.5 million, the Charleston Civic Center has undergone numerous renovations and expansions. The Charleston Civic Center currently consists of three main components: the Civic Center Coliseum, the Little Theater, and the Charleston Convention Center, also referred to as the Grand Hall.



In 1953, the first in a series of general obligation bonds was approved by city voters for the construction of a civic center in the downtown area of Charleston, West Virginia between Lee Street and Quarrier Street on the banks of the Elk River just before the Elk River empties into the Kanawha River. When the original Civic Center opened in January 1959 at the cost of $2.5 million, it consisted of a 6,000-seat arena and the 750-seat "Little Theater."

The Civic Center underwent its first renovation and expansion in 1964 when 2,400 additional seats were added to the arena and a paved parking lot and an ice rink were added to the facilities. The $1.5 million project was financed through the sale of revenue bonds.

The most significant renovation and expansion began when city voters approved a $10 million general obligation bond sale in 1976 to erect a 13,000-seat coliseum, a two story lobby that connected the new coliseum with the original arena and theater, and remodel the original arena into a convention center. The project also received an additional $10 million in federal matching grants and was completed in 1980.

Two parking garages were added in 1983, accommodating up to 1,300 cars. In 1994, the 36,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) Grand Hall of the convention center received a new ceiling, paint and lighting and the ice rink was also converted into an exhibit hall in the same year. The last renovations took place between 2004 and 2006 when about $250,000 was spent to renovate the Little Theater.[1][2]

Common events

The Charleston Civic Center is a venue for a number of annual events and fairs throughout the year. Among the events includes Annual West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, West Virginia Association of Fairs & Festivals Conference, West Virginia International Auto Show, West Virginia Sports Show, the Taste of Charleston, and the Capital City Arts & Crafts Fair. Several local high schools hold their proms and graduation ceremonies at the Civic Center.

The Civic Center Coliseum also hosts the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the annual West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament, West Virginia State High School Boys and Girls Basketball Tournaments, music concerts, professional wrestling, and basketball games between in-state rivals West Virginia University and Marshall University. The West Virginia State University also holds its commencement ceremonies in the Coliseum.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild conducts performances in the Little Theater throughout the year.[3]

Current issues

During early 2007, Jay DeWispelaere, CEO of Pride Youth Programs, commented on what he felt were the inadequacies of the Charleston Civic Center. DeWispelaere originally came to Charleston to scout the city as a possible location to host Pride Youth Programs' annual anti-drug convention.

Among DeWispelaere's comments were that there was an insufficient number of meeting rooms and that the Grand Hall was not large enough for the conference's exhibit area, which includes a helicopter, a rock-climbing wall and other large features. In a stage area set up in the Grand Hall, loudspeakers had to be placed on the floor as they could not be suspended from the ceiling as with most other convention centers. The Grand Hall's low ceiling inhibited spotlight tracking on some portions of the stage area and blocked the view of the stage from the back of the Grand Hall.[4]

As a result of DeWispelaere's comments, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones made the upgrade and expansion of the Civic Center a platform of his successful May 15, 2007 mayoral reelection campaign.[5] On June 11, 2007, the Charleston City Council authorized a feasibility study on the expansion or replacement of the existing structure. Conventions, Sports & Leisure Int'l, a facilities planning firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas, and the DLR Group, an architectural firm in Portland, Oregon, were hired to conducted the study.[6]

As part of the expansion plans, the City of Charleston inquired about purchasing a 2-acre (8,100 m2) tract near the existing Civic Center and owned by the Beni Kedem Temple, a chapter of the Shriners fraternal organization. However, the Beni Kedem members voted to table the mission to sell the property to the city.[7][8]


  1. ^ Thompson, Matthew (May 02, 2007). "Charleston Civic Center: Time for Expansion?". Charleston Daily Mail. p. 1A.  
  2. ^ "Get to Know West Virginia Tourism and Hospitality Careers: Charleston Civic Center & Coliseum". West Virginia Office of Hospitality Education and Training. August 5, 2003. Retrieved 2007-05-15.  
  3. ^ "Charleston Civic Center Event Calendar". Retrieved 2007-05-16.  
  4. ^ Steelhammer, Rick (April 14, 2007). "'This facility won't work' City Leaders Hear About Civic Center Problems". The Charleston Gazette. p. 1A. Retrieved 2007-05-16.  
  5. ^ Balow, Jim (May 16, 2007). "Jones Sweeps to 2nd Term as Mayor". The Charleston Gazette. p. 1A. Retrieved 2007-05-16.  
  6. ^ Balow, Jim (June 15, 2007). "Civic Center Upgrade on City Agenda". The Charleston Gazette: p. 1A. Retrieved 2007-08-28.  
  7. ^ Hohmann, George (October 22, 2007). "City weighs options for temple property, Civic Center expansion". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 2007-10-31.  
  8. ^ Balow, Jim (October 19, 2007). "Beni Kedem stalemate stalls Civic Center expansion study". The Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2007-10-31.  


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