Charleston Civic Center
The Charleston Civic Center is a municipal complex located in the downtown area of Charleston, West Virginia. Originally completed in 1959 at the cost of $2.5 million, the Charleston Civic Center has undergone numerous renovations and expansions. The Charleston Civic Center currently consists of three main components: the Civic Center Coliseum, the Little Theater, and the Charleston Convention Center, also referred to as the Grand Hall.
In 1953, the first in a series of general obligation bonds was approved by city voters for the construction of a civic center in the downtown area of Charleston, West Virginia between Lee Street and Quarrier Street on the banks of the Elk River just before the Elk River empties into the Kanawha River. When the original Civic Center opened in January 1959 at the cost of $2.5 million, it consisted of a 6,000-seat arena and the 750-seat "Little Theater."
The Civic Center underwent its first renovation and expansion in 1964 when 2,400 additional seats were added to the arena and a paved parking lot and an ice rink were added to the facilities. The $1.5 million project was financed through the sale of revenue bonds.
The most significant renovation and expansion began when city voters approved a $10 million general obligation bond sale in 1976 to erect a 13,000-seat coliseum, a two story lobby that connected the new coliseum with the original arena and theater, and remodel the original arena into a convention center. The project also received an additional $10 million in federal matching grants and was completed in 1980.
Two parking garages were added in 1983, accommodating up to 1,300 cars. In 1994, the 36,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) Grand Hall of the convention center received a new ceiling, paint and lighting and the ice rink was also converted into an exhibit hall in the same year. The last renovations took place between 2004 and 2006 when about $250,000 was spent to renovate the Little Theater.
The Charleston Civic Center is a venue for a number of annual events and fairs throughout the year. Among the events includes Annual West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, West Virginia Association of Fairs & Festivals Conference, West Virginia International Auto Show, West Virginia Sports Show, the Taste of Charleston, and the Capital City Arts & Crafts Fair. Several local high schools hold their proms and graduation ceremonies at the Civic Center.
The Civic Center Coliseum also hosts the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the annual West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament, West Virginia State High School Boys and Girls Basketball Tournaments, music concerts, professional wrestling, and basketball games between in-state rivals West Virginia University and Marshall University. The West Virginia State University also holds its commencement ceremonies in the Coliseum.
The Charleston Light Opera Guild conducts performances in the Little Theater throughout the year.