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Commissioners approve $82.5M budget ordinance for multi-purpose event center


The Cumberland County commissioners on Monday approved an $82.5 million resolution of intent as part of a capital project budget ordinance for construction of a multi-purpose event center to replace the aging county arena and theater at the Crown Complex by 2025.

“I’m sure that’s music to everybody’s ears,” Commissioner Charles Evans said after the unanimous decision by the Board of Commissioners. “This is going to be a great asset to the community.”

The board also voted unanimously to spend $2.5 million for MBP (McDonough Bolyard Peck) Carolinas Inc. to act as the county’s owner representative to oversee hiring a general contractor, selecting an architectural design team and helping with site procurement.

“MBP Carolinas would develop the project budget in coordination with the county,” Jermaine Walker, the county engineering and infrastructure director, told commissioners. “They would also provide consistent updates to the Board of Commissioners and also to the general public as to the progress of the project. They would assist in geotechnical analysis, hiring the construction manager and at-risk general contractor that would assist in any real estate actions that we need for site procurement. They would analyze those sites, bring back recommendations for the board to make those decisions and essentially work with the county from inception through completion and post-completion to get the project completed and have a complete and usable facility.”

The initial revenue source for the project will be a transfer from the county’s food and beverage fund balance, Vicki Evans, the county’s general manager of financial services, told commissioners. The food and beverage fund balance will be reimbursed once the financing is in place, she said.

The projected expenditures for the project are:

  • $65 million for construction.
  • $9 million for contingency, i.e. accelerated pricing and unforeseen expenditures.
  • $5.5 million for architectural design.
  • $2.5 million for the food and beverage fund transfer.
  • $2.2 million for MBP Carolinas management.
  • $500,000 for debt issuance costs.
  • $100,000 for engineering.
  • $100,000 for license and permits.
  • $48,000 for surveying.

The budget includes the $80 million estimated cost that was part of a September 2021 feasibility study presented to the board.

The marketing feasibility study executed in September by Conventions, Sports and Leisure identified potential sites for the center as downtown, the Interstate-295 Outer Loop and the current location of the arena and theater. The study was paid for by Spectra Venue Management, which manages the Crown Complex. Commissioners voted earlier, according to Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, not to build at the Crown Complex site.

The arena and theater are scheduled to close in the fall of 2025. The study’s recommendation is to build an 89,000-square-foot multi-purpose venue with a maximum capacity of 2,500 to 3,000 people.

“We realize how important this project is,” County Manager Amy Cannon told commissioners.

While there still is no venue for the proposed center, Keefe called Monday’s vote significant in moving the project forward.

“It’s a big day for Cumberland County,” said Keefe, who is chairman of the board’s Multi-Purpose Event Center Committee.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Cumberland County, Board of Commissioners, multi-purpose event center