Asheville Daily Planet
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Thursday, 02 May 2019 15:46

From Staff Reports

Asheville’s Civic Center Advisory Committee voted 3-2 on April 2 against Harrah’s Cherokee Casino taking over signage and naming rights of the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville.

“While Harrah’s submitted a much higher bid than U.S. Cellular, the committee is recommending the latter offer be accepted,” Asheville’s WLOS-TV News 13 reported on April 3.

“U.S. Cellular, according to center manager Chris Corl, submitted a bid of just more than $900,000 for a five-year-extension. Harrah’s submitted a bid more than double that, pledging $2.5 million plus $750,000 for additional improvements in the facility over the five-year-contract,” WLOS noted.

Meanwhile, committee member Bill Jones told the TV station that a casino name has no place on a city-owned building, adding, “It would be astounding to me if council goes there.”

Still, others involved with the venue have told the local news media that they not want to dismiss the bid because they think the center needs investment.

To that end, committee chair Corey Atkins, who also works for the chamber of commerce, told WLOS, “I think that Harrah’s made an offer that really is one that has to be considered... think they (Harrah’s) understood there would be some resistance purely based on their name.”

Further, Atkins said he and U.S. Cellular Center manager Chris Corl are hoping that Asheville City Council will be willing to learn more about Harrah’s philanthropic work, including initiatives such as serving as a MANNA FoodBank sponsor.

Corl told the TV station that the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, located inside the center, needs a major infusion of cash to support a long-overdue improvement plan. Corl said money from Harrah’s potential contract would be a significant way to jump-start such a campaign, WLOS reported.



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