The Classic Center Arena
The Classic Center Authority's proposal for the 2020 SPLOST
The mission of the proposed Classic Center Arena project is to fulfill the original vision of The Classic Center as defined in its 1989 program - to serve the community as a civic, cultural and social center - while increasing the impact of The Classic Center as Athens’ greatest economic development engine for hospitality and tourism. In addition to providing cultural and entertainment opportunities for citizens, this project stimulates the economy and creates over 600 jobs through hospitality and tourism while acting as a learning lab for students in our universities and technical colleges for one of Athens' leading clean and "green" industries. Hospitality is now one of the leading industries in our country, providing outstanding pathways to meaningful careers with significant salaries.
GOAL: Enable The Classic Center Authority to generate an additional $33 million per year in economic impact for Athens as calculated by a study completed in 2018 by Convention Sports and Leisure International, a team recognized within the hospitality industry for its expertise in providing consulting services to the convention, sport, entertainment and visitor industries, as well as generate an additional 100,000+ hotel room nights.
a. Expand to accommodate an additional 125 events at The Classic Center of up to 7,000+ participants through the expanded space and new state-of-the-art technology
b. Enhance Athens' reputation as an internationally recognized music city by creating a venue capable of hosting national touring music concerts that draw 7,000+ fans.
c. Build on Athens' status as the preferred venue for statewide, regional and national conferences by hosting groups capable of drawing 5,000+ guests.
d. Create a facility able to attract and host up to 10 family shows (Marvel Universe, Disney on Ice, Harlem Globetrotters, etc.) each year.
e. Increase visitor spending by $33 million annually, directly raising hotel occupancy and generating jobs. According to the Georgia Dept. of Economic Development, the current economic impact generated by the local hospitality industry saves each Athens household $465 annually in taxes. This expansion is anticipated to increase the Center's room night generation by over 90 percent, by driving an additional 100,000+ room nights annually.
f. Make Athens more attractive to businesses seeking to locate operations in a community that provides a high level of cultural and leisure services for families, employees and customers.
GOAL: To create 600 new jobs and enhance the continuum of education to prepare citizens of all ages for professions in tourism and hospitality through on-the-job training and education designed to meet people where they are on the employment ladder.
a. Establish Athens throughout the multi-state region as the best tourism/convention city due to state-of-the-art facilities and a unique partnership with UGA, Athens Technical College, Piedmont College, Athens Career Academy, Bread for Life and the Hospitality Careers Academy in the teaching of world-class service through the learning lab at The Classic Center, Levy, The Georgia Club, Chick-fil-A, Hyatt Place and other partnering hotels.
b. Decrease Athens' 30% poverty rate through technical training and hands-on experience for the unskilled, unemployed and underemployed, preparing them for in-demand hospitality jobs and guaranteeing them marketable skills, employability and higher incomes.
c. Generate the economic impact that will create 630 permanent new jobs in this community as estimated by the Convention Sports and Leisure International study of 2018. It is estimated that new hourly positions added will average $12-$15 an hour and that salaried positions will average $40,000 a year.
GOAL: Cover the operating costs of The Classic Center’s expanded facilities with revenues generated by the increase in sales, events, conventions, hotel tax, visitors and customers made possible with this expansion.
a. Increase the current 660 events a year at The Classic Center to 780 per year and increase the number of major conventions from 66 to 76 as indicated in the Convention Sports and International group's study. Currently, the 66 conventions held each year generate 50 percent of total revenue earned by The Classic Center Authority and the majority of the economic impact. Adding 10 conventions and 125 events per year, over the course of 300 event days, will have a dramatic impact on The Classic Center as well as the entire community.
b. Maintain The Classic Center's status as one of the only publicly-sponsored civic centers in Georgia operating without general fund subsidy.
c. Demonstrate again that SPLOST funding for expansion of The Classic Center will produce an economic stimulus, improved services and job development even greater than the projected goals. When SPLOST 2011 provided for the expansion of the Grand Hall and creation of the Atrium, The Classic Center anticipated hosting 10-20 new conventions. By 2014, The Classic Center had booked 47 new conventions and increased economic impact by $15 million per year. When SPLOST 2000 provided for the renovation of the upper Foundry Street Warehouses, The Classic Center anticipated hosting an additional 80 events per year in the Foundry Street building; by the second year, The Classic Center was up to 180. When SPLOST 2005 added additional meeting space and connection to the Foundry Street Warehouses, the goal was to grow from 15,000 room nights to 30,000; The Classic Center is now at 68,000 room nights. The Classic Center has a long, proven history of exceeding expectations in relation to SPLOST projects.
d. The Classic Center Authority has a proven track record of covering its own costs of operation for 20 years without general fund subsidy.