The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a concept design for the new Crown Event Center on Monday, completing another step toward the $131.7 million multipurpose center that will replace the Crown Theater and Arena.
The three-story center, which will be in downtown Fayetteville, includes a two-story lobby with a rooftop terrace facing Gillespie Street; an event hall that can accommodate 3,000 people; meeting and events space; and VIP spaces, according to the newly approved concept design.
The $131.7 million price tag is higher than the initial estimate in the early planning stages for the center, but the facility is now projected to be larger than originally planned — 131,500 square feet versus the original 89,000. Inflation has driven up the price as well, according to a news release from the county.
“When escalation is taken into account, the cost per square foot between the original and approved budgets is similar,” the release said.
County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe noted in an interview with CityView that the budget for the new center will not increase taxes for county residents.
“This is going to be funded through the local occupancy tax dollars and the food and beverage tax dollars. So, no bonds, no additional revenue sources, no tax increases that need to come out for all this. The funding model that we've stayed within throughout this entire process allows for food and beverage and local occupancy tax to take care of these projects,” Keefe said.
The new center will not be like the traditional performing arts center, Keefe said.
“It’s what we’re calling an entertainment center that has a lot of flex space in it,” he said.
Keefe said the larger space will allow the center to accommodate community events and not just touring acts that are typically seen in other cities across North Carolina, such as Durham Performing Arts Center.
“There’s not many events that the community can be involved in. With that facility, it’s usually national touring acts that come in. Well, this will truly be a community center. There’ll be opportunities for lots of folks to be able to use this center,” Keefe said.
And it’s not just the center itself for Keefe. The commissioner called the venue an “economic multiplier” for downtown businesses.
“The location should be able to enhance the existing businesses of downtown, but more importantly, should also be able to allow for expansion of new businesses and property around the center,” Keefe said.
“Whenever people come and decide to move here and move their family here, we can come in downtown, and we can show where we have a state-of-the-art baseball stadium. And now we’re going to have a state-of-the-art, very moderate event center that will have a lot of different things going on for families,” Keefe continued. “We’re really pretty excited about it.”
Earlier this year, the county approved construction managers for the project, CityView reported.
Construction of the center is estimated to begin early next year, and the venue is set to open by November 2025.
Ben Sessoms covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at email@example.com.