Savannah is hoping to lure larger theatrical and musical acts to the area with a bigger and more modern venue.
The city of Savannah broke ground on Sept. 13 for new multi-purpose arena to replace the outdated Savannah Civic Center, which was built in 1974.
With improved technology at the arena, Savannah hopes to bring in entertainers that have previously bypassed Savannah on their tours in favor of Charleston, Jacksonville and Atlanta.
“There is no reason some of these bigger bands and artists should skip Savannah on their tours," Savannah Councilman Julian Miller said.
Miller emphasized the importance of the new arena's versatility as it will be used for everything from musical concerts to G-League basketball to ice hockey and will be equipped with technology that will allow for much easier use by musical artists. “With this new arena, bands will be able to back their van up, plug in, and be ready to perform” Miller said.
Not only is this new arena a major upgrade from the old Civic Center as it pertains to functionality, it will also ultimately be cheaper.
According to Assistant City Manager Bret Bell, the old Civic Center costs $2 million a year in repairs with another million needed to repair the roof. The new arena, estimated to cost $165 million is being funded by a new “penny sales tax” that was voted into place by local citizens.
Bell was excited and optimistic about the potential benefits for the community, “The local voters approved the new penny sales tax to fund the arena and the community will definitely be better off because of it," he said.
As a city that prides itself on its rich history, the aesthetic of the new arena was of much significance at the City of Savannah council meetings. Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas said that the original design concept had “ugly domes” that did little to preserve the historic nature of Savannah. The new design that was approved at a Sept. 26 City Council meeting embraces both the historic architecture that defines Savannah as well as modern styles that will make the new building a centerpiece for Savannah’s historical district.