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A first look at design for new Crown Event Center

Construction start date not yet set, but facility will be built downtown


Cumberland County officials and representatives of EwingCole, a national architectural design firm, revealed the schematics for the proposed Crown Event Center, a theater and entertainment facility planned for downtown Fayetteville, at Monday’s meeting of the county commissioners.

The Crown Event Center, a multipurpose, 131,000-square-foot facility, will house a 3,000-seat theater, an outdoor terrace and VIP spaces. Additional space will accommodate meetings and community gatherings, allowing multiple events to take place simultaneously.

Additionally, a variety of back-of-house and performer-centered spaces are planned throughout the center.

The project is expected to cost the county about $131 million. 

A start date for construction has not been set. 

“I think this is an amenity that this community wants and I think it deserves,” said Commissioner Glenn Adams. 

The design for the replacement for event and theater facilities at the Crown Complex is being done by EwingCole’s Raleigh office. This is its first event venue of this style in North Carolina, but the firm says it has designed performance facilities nationwide for Live Nation. 

The center will be equipped to handle "anything from concerts of any type to Broadway shows,” said EwingCole’s Bill Koonz, regional director of the Crown Event Center project. “(It) has a great deal of flexibility and is intended to be flexible to serve the needs of the community.”

Assistant County Manager Brian Haney said the county “wanted to create a space where performers will want to return to, as the performer experience is a large part of what will allow us to bring the types of events we want to the facility.”

The Crown Event Center will be built on county-owned property in front of the Cumberland County Courthouse on Gillespie Street downtown.

The property is a parking lot for the courthouse as well as some law offices. When completed, the new center will replace the existing Crown Theatre and Crown Arena, which must close by Oct. 31, 2025, because of the high costs of upgrading the facility to meet safety standards.

Commissioners made the decision in early 2020 to close the theater and arena by 2025.

The original Crown Theatre and Arena, built in 1967, needed significant upgrades to modernize the venue and have it meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards. According to a 2015 Crown Theatre study, the potential cost of those renovations mirrored the costs of building a new facility, with an estimated cost of $35.35 million at the time.

There are no plans to close the Crown Coliseum and expo center at the Crown Complex.

“I think this center complements the Crown Coliseum. They will still have big shows and events, but there can be Broadway shows, meetings, and weddings at the new Crown Event Center," Adams said. 

At this point in the planning, the sizes of some spaces are subject to change, Haney said. A construction contract is being negotiated.

Contact Char Morrison at cmorrison@cityviewnc.com.

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