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Consultants seeking input on new Cumberland County events center

Plans for site selection, design to move forward


A project manager and site-selection director say they hope to move forward with construction of a multipurpose events center for Cumberland County and want input from potential stakeholders and the public.

Ideas are needed “for what we are going to design and build,” Matthew DeSilver told the Cumberland County Crown Event Center Committee on Monday at a meeting in the county Board of Commissioners conference room at the county courthouse.

DeSilver is senior project manager for MBP Inc., which was hired by the county to oversee construction of a center that will replace the Crown  Arena and Crown Theatre on U.S. 301 Business. Both facilities are scheduled to close in 2025.

“We’re looking for people to have a voice,” DeSilver told the committee, whose members include County Commissioners Jeannette Council, Glenn Adams and Jimmy Keefe.

Council is chairwoman of the committee. Adams is the chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Also attending were Joe Quigg III, chairman of the Cumberland County Civic Center Commission, and Seth Benalt, general manager of the Crown Complex.

DeSilver presented a report on proposed guiding principles for the committee to review by Friday as a starting point. Once a public input committee is established, the Crown committee will meet in June to discuss feedback gathered digitally and at a public hearing.

The guiding principles will go to the county commissioners for a vote, DeSilver said.

The commissioners approved $82.5 million on April 4 for construction of an events center. At the same time, the board voted unanimously to spend $2.5 million on MBP to represent the county in hiring a general contractor, selecting an architectural design team and assisting with site procurement.

A marketing feasibility study in 2021 by Conventions, Sports and Leisure recommended an 89,000-square-foot multipurpose venue with a maximum capacity of 2,500 to 3,000 people. The study identified downtown, the Interstate 295 Outer Loop, and the current site of the arena and theater as potential sites for a new events center.

Joe Hines is director of economic development for the Timmons Group, which will lead the site-selection process.

“There’s a balancing act,” Hines said.

Whatever site is chosen, he said, there always are issues to consider, from parking to utility improvements, if necessary.

“We want to make sure you have a good feel for the best decision,” Hines said. “And we realize if you don’t own the property, that could be problematic.”

Hines said Timmons will look at a number of downtown locations as well as other potential sites then report its findings to the committee with a recommendation within 30 to 45 days.

“We will show you viable sites,” Hines said. “We’ll see if there is stratification. If you are not satisfied, we can always drop back and punt.”

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

Cumberland County, Fayetteville, Crown Center, events center