Earlier this month City Council voted 6-1 to accept a bid from Harrah’s Cherokee for naming rights of the Civic Center, now known as the U.S. Cellular Center.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the name of the building will be Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville. The agreement will not change the names of the ExploreAsheville.com Arena or the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
Harrah’s $5.75 million bid came in several million dollars above U.S. Cellular’s bid of $920,000. U.S. Cellular was bidding to renew their contract for another 3-5 years. The city gave naming rights to Harrah’s for five years, with the possibility of extending for another five years. Despite concerns that the name would pull tourists away from Asheville and promote gambling, the only council member who voted against the offer was Julie Mayfield.
What does that $5.75 million include?
- An annual naming license fee for the Civic Center and the Civic Center Parking Garage
- $3 million earmarked for renovations and improvements at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
- $750,000 for improving fan experience, including public Wi-Fi and digital video boards
- $250,000 for replacement of all signage and branding to display the new name
A primary goal of the deal was to enhance visitor’s experience at the venue as much as possible. City staff are currently negotiating a potential name for the venue.