The city of Asheville on Monday announced it was opening up the bidding for the naming rights to the U.S. Cellular Center. Opened as the Asheville Civic Center Complex in 1974, the naming rights were sold to U.S. Cellular in 2011 for $1.35-million. The contract with the firm expires at the end of 2019.
The U.S. Cellular Center includes the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, the ExploreAsheville.com Arena, and a banquet hall. It's the largest performance venue in downtown Asheville. The banquet hall will host a public information meeting on the bidding process on September 26th. City council is scheduled to receive the 'best offers' for naming rights sometime in the spring of 2019 to ensure a decision is made by the time the contract with U.S. Cellular expires on December 31st of next year. In the press release announcing that bidding for the naming rights would be opened up, the city said it 'hopes to continue a relationship' with U.S. Cellular 'moving into the future.'
In addition to concerts, speakers, and community events, the center has played host to the Southern Conference men's and women's basketball championships in recent years, as well as the opening round of the Fed Cup tennis tournament earlier this year. Attendance at all events at the center in 2017 was 251,495 - which the city says is a record.