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Commission To Look For Ways To Bring Money Into Crown Coliseum

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FAYETTEVILLE — Despite the crowds at wrestling, concerts and hockey events, Cumberland County'sCrown Coliseumis not a moneymaker. County leaders are now considering a way to help turn things around. During a tight budget year, when millions of dollars were cut from department budgets, commissioners are rethinking their support to the Crown Coliseum. Everyone agrees the coliseum is an asset to the community, but at what price? -->

Library trustee Kim Shaffer has questioned the county's choices for budget funding.

"Two and a half million dollars has been put into the coliseum, that would fund us so well and reach so many more people," Shaffer says.

Cumberland County resident Gladys Spears agrees with Shaffer.

"I think the county should give the money to the public schools and the library and let the Coliseum be self-supporting," Spears says.

The Crown Coliseum has not turned a profit since it opened in 1997. To this point, the county has covered $2.1 million in losses. Some commissioners want to know if a private management firm could bail them out.

"Entertainment is controlled by large conglomerates that deal with large venues in Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro," says George Breece of the Civic Center Commission. "That's one area, but will it be cost beneficial to us? We have to look at all the dynamics."

The Crown Coliseum depends on sports to make ends meet. It is pursuing Arena Football and the NBA's development league for anchor tenants. Under new ownership, the Fayetteville Force is also promising to do more.

"I think we can increase the number of people who visit this building tremendously," says majority shareholder Lynn Nathan.

The Civic Center Commission, which was appointed by county commissioners, plan to study the issue and make a recommendation to the county. The Commission says, in the meantime, it will continue to work to reduce its dependence on taxpayer dollars.