April 26, 2007
News 12 got a sneak preview of USC-Aiken's new state of the art, $21 million Convocation Center today.
It's no secret Augusta's Civic Center has been struggling to get big acts to the Garden City for years. But now, with a new entertainment center about to open in Aiken, civic center board members say they're going to have to start thinking out of the box.
After only a year and a half of construction, the University of South Carolina is putting the finishing touches on the Convocation Center, just days away from opening night.
"We're excited to attract people here," said general manager Jennifer Kelly.
The center already has big names like Kenny Rogers, Papa Roach and hip-hop artist Omarion lined up for the next two months.
But what about Augusta?
It's been years since the Coliseum Authority has had back to back, sold out shows in the Garden City with household names like Alicia Keys. But board members say even though the James Brown Arena is 27 years older than its competition across the river, the Convocation Center poses no threat because it is half the size of the James Brown Arena, seating only four thousand people.
But Convocation Center managers say that's what's bringing the headliners in to Aiken.
"There aren't a lot of arenas this size around, so you have smaller acts going into bigger arenas," Kelly said.
Coliseum Authority board member Richard Isdell says they just spent $100,000 renovating the meeting rooms at the Arena and are in the process of spending another $100,000 in other repairs. He says they plan on trying new tactics like promoting shows themselves to see if they can attract more big names to Augusta.
In the meanwhile, the managers at the Convocation Center say they plan on bringing in the Ringling Brothers Circus and Disney Live in the next year.
The first two acts at the Convocation Center take the stage next week. Tuesday, May 1st is Hinder with Papa Roach and Operator starting at 6:30. Then Saturday, May 5 is Kenny Rogers at 7:30.
Call 1-866-722-8877 for tickets, or click here.