The BI-LO Center is an arena located in downtown Greenville, South Carolina that is used for concerts. It was once used for basketball and ice hockey games, but currently the only tenant is the Carolina Force of the Southern Indoor Football League.
The Bi-Lo Center was built in 1998 at a cost of US$63 million to replace Greenville’s outdated and under-repaired Greenville Memorial Auditorium, which was imploded on a site located across the street from the new arena in September 1997. The arena was named for BI-LO, a regional grocery store chain headquartered in the Greenville area that paid for the arena’s naming rights. When it was built, the BI-LO Center was the largest arena in the state of South Carolina, a distinction it held until 2002, when the Colonial Center was built in Columbia, South Carolina.
As a concert venue, the BI-LO Center can seat between 11,000 and 15,951 spectators, depending on the positioning of the stage. The arena features 30 luxury suites and 840 club seats.
The arena floor measures 113 feet (34 m) wide by 229 feet (70 m) long. There are 7,472 seats in the upper bowl and 4,809 permanent seats and 1,290 retractable seats in the lower bowl.
The BI-LO Center hosted the Southern Conference men’s basketball tournaments in 2000 and 2001 as well first and second round games during the 2002 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. However, the NCAA has since implemented a policy to not hold tournament games in either South Carolina or Mississippi, following a recommendation from the NAACP that was intended to call attention to the Confederate flag on display next to a monument on the grounds of the South Carolina State House. As a result, the BI-LO Center has not hosted an NCAA Tournament game since 2002. College basketball made its return to Greenville in 2005, when the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament was played at the BI-LO Center, in an emergency situation which turned futile. The Philips Arena in Atlanta was the scheduled site for the tournament, but backed out in the summer of 2004 because of logistics following plans for the 54th NHL All-Star Game which was to be held just six weeks before the 2005 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament. Once the plans were announced, the SEC had moved that tournament to Greenville, with considerable protest from the NAACP. Even with the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the SEC kept the tournament in Greenville, which is 140 miles (230 km) east of Atlanta.
The arena has also served as the home for the Greenville Groove (2001-2003), one of the original members of the NBA Development League, as well as the Carolina Rhinos football team (2000-2002), one of the inaugural members of af2, the Arena Football League’s minor league, as well as the Greenville Grrrowl of the ECHL (1998-2006), hosting the 2002 Kelly Cup Finals. In 2009, the BI-LO Center will once again have a regular tenant when the South Carolina Force of the AIFA begin play for the 2009 season.
Currently, the BI-LO Center also regularly hosts a wide variety of events such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, professional wrestling, monster truck rallies, motocross racing, professional ice skating, such as the Champions on Ice, and ice dancing shows and competitions, dog shows, and concerts spanning many different musical genres.
Normally, the South Carolina High School League Upper State basketball finals would be held in the arena, but it was moved to Littlejohn Coliseum because of the 2008 Bassmasters Classic weigh-in ceremonies, and therefore was held at the Bi-Lo Center.
The arena hosted TNA Wrestling’s Pay-Per-View Against All Odds on February 10, 2008. On April 21, 2008 it hosted the King of the Ring edition of WWE Monday Night Raw.
Recently great artists or music groups such as Eagles, Yanni have performed there. On April 21, 2009, world known musician Yanni performed Yanni Voices there.
Also, Demi Lovato will be performing there on August 4, 2009, as part of her summer tour.
On July 14, 2009, Bruce Springsteen announced that he, along with the legendary E Street Band, will be performing there on September 16, 2009. It is slated to be the biggest event at the arena to date.