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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Dorton Dinosaur

Posted May 2, 2008

It seems pretty sad. Raleigh draws the eyes of the nation tonight when the two Democratic Presidential candidates, locked in a dramatic battle, come together in the same room. But the best Raleigh can do for a venue is Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds.

Dorton Arena is a dinosaur with no air conditioning, horrible acoustics and a musty smell. Democrats say they were forced to move the Jefferson Jackson dinner to Dorton because of unexpected interest and the lack of options.

Raleigh will soon have a new convention center. The RBC Center is also a superb location for large events. The Progress Energy Center is a jewel downtown. And Walnut Creek has a certain charm.

Some people argue that Raleigh could use another intermediate venue for high profile events. It seems the State Fairgrounds with its major concerts in October could use a serious upgrade. Should we save Dorton Arena with its cool 1950’s parabolic design and renovate the facility or should we bring in the wrecking ball and start all over again? Please weigh in.

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  • krisandbruiser May 2, 2008

    I'm not an original Tarheel, been living here 25 years now, longer than anyplace else, so I consider it home. Been to Dorton several times, most recently for the Home Show. It does need updating as do other facilities at the fairgrounds.My vote, for what it's worth, is to renovate it.

  • drnc May 2, 2008

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding the Jefferson Jackson dinner at Dorton Arena. It would be nice if there was A/C. As for the smell, there's not a politician extant that wouldn't stink up any venue. There are plenty of modern, cookie-cutter convention halls. Dorton is history. Clinton and Obama should be proud to enter its doors. Sorry, Bill. You were way off on this one.

  • ReallyBigYawn May 2, 2008

    Flip this Arena!

  • Wheelman May 2, 2008

    The RBC Center was such a good idea. Why not tear it down and spend a couple of zillion dollars on something that has no identity and no one will remember!

  • mrkagain May 2, 2008

    And another thing... I googled up the history of Dorton Arena, since this article stirred my interest. I do remember seeing it in passing on occasions, and I think it's a remarkable looking structure. It probably does merit renovation and preservation.

  • Riverracer8 May 2, 2008

    I've got so many good memories of Dorton Arena - save it!

  • Squirreling Dervish May 2, 2008

    Saw KISS there in 1977...wooh!!

  • mrkagain May 2, 2008

    It may be worth saving, I don't know. I don't live in Raleigh, and I've never been to Dorton Arena. I hear someone day Dorton Arena, and I think of my uncle watching WRAL broadcasting "wrestling" there on Saturday nights back in the mid-sixties. At any rate, I think it's hilarious that the debate will be there. Good place for Hillie and Barak.. old, decrepit and smelly. That's a good venue for their politics. They can pretend to be the Masked Marvels tag team, and wrestle the empty seats. ROFL

  • Frank Downtown May 2, 2008

    It just needs to be updated. Its such a unique building it would be a shame to tear it down. The landscaping needs to be upgraded, too.

  • lovetheheels May 2, 2008

    Save it!! Architecture like that is unique and deserves to have a place in our midst. Renovate it, air condition it, rent it and enjoy giving it a 2nd life.

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