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Study will determine whether a new civic center is feasible in Lynchburg

Region 2000 and Liberty University are funding a study that will look at the need for a multi-purpose facility in the Hill City

February 01, 2011|Tim Saunders | Reporter/Lynchburg Bureau Chief

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Roanoke has one.  Salem does too.  But can our part of Virginia support a third civic center?

Some in Lynchburg believe one is needed in the Hill City.

Lynchburg is home to many things, but one thing it doesn't have - a large civic center.

"While we have some very nice facilities here, we don't have anything that can accommodate several hundred people," said Rex Hammond, President and CEO of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Vines Center at Liberty University is the closest thing the city has to a civic arena.  While that building is used for many public events, some believe a stand-alone civic center is needed too.

"(A civic center) would offer a flexibility that the community could use it as well for its purposes," said Hammond, who adds that the city gets passed over for shows and conventions all the time because it doesn't have a large facility that can play host.

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"They look elsewhere, because we're not able to accommodate," said Hammond.

Lynchburg has plenty of hotels and conference space, but Beckie Nix with Lynchburg's Convention and Visitor's Bureau says a one large venue could offer more.

"It really helps position the city in a competitive way so that we can go out there and compete against these other localities for business," said Nix.

Region 2000 is now looking at whether a civic center is feasible in Lynchburg.

"What we're doing is studying whether the market, the Lynchburg Metro Area, can support a facility like this," said Bryan David, Region 2000 Executive Director.

The study is being funded in part by LU, which could be a partner in the new facility.

So what would a civic center in Lynchburg look like?

With John Paul Jones arena in Charlottesville and the Roanoke Civic Center nearby too, Hammond believes a large arena for major concerts may not work.

"We might want that, but I don't think we can support that," said Hammond, who believes the study will ultimately decide what the city can handle.

The study itself will cost $40,000 and take about five months to finish.

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