KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The City of Knoxville issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an architecture and engineering team that would be capable of designing and making recommendations regarding improvements to the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum (KCAC).
On Thursday, the City said its goal was to invest in KCAC so that the venue could continue to operate for several more years, until more long-term decisions have been made about its future.
The KCAC includes the Coliseum, which can hold 6,500 patrons, and the Auditorium, which can hold 2,500. The venue opened its doors in 1961 and hosts hundreds of events every year. It's also home to the Knoxville Ice Bears professional hockey team.
The City said bookings at the venue were up about 50 percent in the past two years.
In 2016, a feasibility study was conducted that showed the facility was outdated. The study recommended either a complete renovation, or building an entirely new Coliseum beside an upgraded Auditorium. Cost estimates for those renovations were $26 million, or $140 million for construction of a completely new Coliseum.
“I would love to be able to build a new Coliseum for the more than 250,000 people who attend events at KCAC every year,”Mayor Madeline Rogero said.
“But with other pressing priorities, including the need for a new headquarters for our Police and Fire departments, it is not realistic to fund a project of that scale in the short term. So I’m recommending that we make some crucial upgrades in the next two years to address longstanding needs. We want to provide a good experience for everyone who comes to see music and shows and the Ice Bears. This will keep KCAC viable without eliminating future possibilities for the facility.”
A preliminary list of updates to the facility include improvements for the ice floor, air handling units and electrical infrastructure. It also includes improved Coliseum restrooms, as well as new lighting, seats and carpeting at the Auditorium.