Schedule begins to take shape for Event Center
BY PATRICK MASON
Monday, March 12, 2018
Large parties, trade shows, weddings and even sports teams will soon have a common home. At least that’s what the Rocky Mount Event Center plans to offer once it opens its doors this fall.
As construction on the massive downtown Rocky Mount building continues — it won’t be finished until September — the Event Center’s capabilities are becoming more clear. The facility will have the ability to host a wide variety of functions, from athletic tournaments to corporate events to concerts.
The Event Center has fielded 26 requests for future events and has put those dates on hold. It’s a strong start, with interest already materializing. These early requests range from AAU basketball tournaments, cheer and dance competitions, and gymnastics. Trade shows have also shown interest, as well as workshops for elective classes.
And while much of the early interest has been funnelled through a sports lens, the Event Center will be versatile. It has to be if it plans on being the linchpin of downtown development.
“It’s not just sports,” said Ashley Pittman, the media relations for Sports Facilities Advisory, a company that helps plan and guide ambitious centers like this. “On the entertainment side we will be able to convert to host comedy shows, plays and concerts.
“We will host trade shows, banquets, corporate events and weddings. There will be a family entertainment center with an arcade, a ropes course and rock climbing. We want to reach the kids and our local communities.”
The venue for concerts will be able to seat over 3,000, while room for up to 372 booths will accommodate the trade show crowd. The sports section will hold around 4,000 spectators.
A grand opening is set for mid-October, while public hard-hat viewings will be offered in the coming months. What’s exciting, said Pittman, is that with events already on hold, the Event Center expects to have an immediate impact in the town.
As this venue wades into downtown Rocky Mount, the plan is to be the kickstart that developers and investors are looking for as the town attempts to revitalize itself. Having an adaptable building with the ability to host a variety of functions is a promising start.
“While we’re able to host various and broad things here,” Pittman said. “It’s more than just about what we can provide. The city wants to bring something here that would attract people, and we want to be that destination.
“We want them to have an experience in Rocky Mount, and leave with a memorable impression of when they came here.
And while the full potential of the Event Center won’t be realized right away, the goal is to have it be in use regularly once its doors open.
“Our goal is to have something going on every week at the Event Center,” Pittman said. “Whether it be sports tournaments, a concert, a banquet or even a corporate event or a trade show, we want to maximize the potential and be open to a number of gatherings.”