DOUBLE DUTY: The rendering above, produced by Walter Robbs Architects, shows what a new USL stadium could look like, transposed on the site of the White Oak Amphitheater in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy venue)
USL stadium, more concert venues planned
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The city that seemingly never stops developing new sports and entertainment venues has three more projects on the drawing board, said Matt Brown, managing director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
City officials are in discussions with a prospective team ownership group to build a new USL soccer stadium in town. It’s still early in the process, but the city has hired Walter Robbs Architects of Winston-Salem to design a 6,000-capacity stadium, Brown said. The project would be funded through $16 million in hotel occupancy revenues.
Four downtown sites are under consideration, plus an option to build the stadium at the coliseum complex, matching up with the footprint of White Oak Amphitheater, a 7,600-capacity outdoor music venue. Under that concept, the USL team would use the amphitheater’s stage for post-match concerts, Brown said.
In addition, the city is developing a new indoor-outdoor music hall downtown that would accommodate 1,200 general admission patrons indoors and a 750-capacity amphitheater. A second phase would extend to building a bigger, 4,500-capacity downtown amphitheater. The site for all three venues is currently a storage garage the city uses to store parks and recreation equipment, Brown said.
The city owns the land and has already allocated $4 million for the initial phase, he said. Local architect CPL is designing the facility.
Oak View Group, owner of VenuesNow and Pollstar, would contribute financially to the development as part of its deal to operate food service at those venues, Brown said. OVG Hospitality already runs the food at the coliseum complex.
Apart from those projects, the city’s roughly 10 existing venues are having a phenomenal year, Brown said.
On its own, the 21,000-seat coliseum just completed a three-week stretch of playing host to the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments, followed by first and second round games of the NCAA men’s tournament. Combined, total attendance surpassed 200,000 for the three events.
As the mini slice of hoops heaven wraps up, in one sense, it’s the end of an era for the community dubbed Tournament Town.
After 70 years in Greensboro, the ACC is moving its league office to Charlotte, a 90-minute drive south on I-85. The transition will be completed in June. The decision hasn’t slowed the coliseum complex’s momentum for booking high profile events, whether it’s NCAA hoops, Saturday’s sold-out Bruce Springsteen concert with 20,000 expected to fill the coliseum, or the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships, held in February at the aquatic center next door to the arena.
“Our goal was to keep the ACC basketball tournaments and our association with running those events,” Brown said. “We proved that again this year. Both the men and women were highly successful. If they want to relocate the offices, fine, but their fans want to come and see the tournaments here. We hope that message was instilled in them enough to keep us in the rotation moving forward.”
As part of the ACC’s deal with the state of North Carolina to receive $15 million in public money to help pay for building a new headquarters in Charlotte, the conference committed to hold a minimum of two men’s basketball tournaments in Greensboro over the next 15 years.
“We’re shooting for 2027 for the men, which would be the 60th anniversary of our first tournament here,” Brown said.
Considering the ACC’s relocation to Charlotte, the future of the ACC Hall of Champions is undetermined. The 8,100-square-foot space filled with displays and memorabilia detailing the history of the conference and situated on the west side of the coliseum’s special events center, opened in 2011. There is free admission to the hall, which the coliseum uses during events for banquets and receptions.
“None of us know and it was never brought up in all of the discussions about the move,” Brown said. “We had a working relationship about using the ACC’s name and built it. They made a small contribution to it. “
ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said it’s up to coliseum complex officials whether to keep the branded hall intact. “That was a project the coliseum commissioned and they own and manage,” Phillips said. “I would imagine that nothing changes and it stays right there. It’s totally their decision.”