CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A flurry of announcements in recent weeks by the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center has fans of all entertainment genres excited for what’s ahead and a sign the industry is roaring back to life following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patrick Leahy, the General Manager of the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center (CCCC) told MetroNews now is the time for the entertainment industry as state and national guidelines for the virus are easing and more people are getting vaccinated.
“Around the first of February is when the industry started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and started planning for shows to take place in the fall and into next year,” Leahy said.
In the past week alone, CCCC officials have announced musical acts Lynyrd Skynyrd, Judas Preist and Foreigner and comedian Jeff Foxworthy arriving in Charleston this fall.
It’s on top of the scheduled comedian acts of Jim Gaffigan and Bert Kreischer and musical guests James Taylor, Jason Aldean, Aaron Lewis and Stateliners, The Avett Brothers, Brantley Gilbert, and Chicago for this fall and winter.
Leahy, who also works as the Director of Booking for the facility said the planning for the fall began in November 2020 with sourcing and negotiating. He said the activity pace picked up the last few months.
He credited the broader relationship of the new management group of CCCC, Oak View, for shows being booked in Charleston quickly once restrictions were easing. He said there has been more access to information of who is touring, what they want to achieve and how to make a compelling argument for coming to Charleston.
“This market has a great history, has great concert history. We are telling the story of why Charleston,” Leahy said.
For Leahy, he said it’s important for a community venue such as CCCC and its branch venues to reflect the community. Event officials have tried to offer a variety of programming so everyone is interested.
“We are confident that we are able to attract a broad spectrum of events whether musical, sports, family, and more,” he said.
Aside from the rock and country announced for the fall, the Charleston Municipal Auditorium is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration with hip-hop artists Yung Bleu & Mooski on June 18. Leahy noted there is also plans to extend its contemporary Christian footprint. Officials are also thrilled with the ticket sales for Blippi, the Musical, for children.
On the sports angle, CCCC is set to host a nationally televised event in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) July 17-21. The games feature star alumni of college basketball programs, including WVU and Marshall, playing for $1 million on the ESPN family of networks.
Leahy said national exposure for Charleston is an important detail for future bookings and economic development.
“Companies that are looking at opportunities to do business in the marketplace are looking for the same kind of amenities and activities that other cities have,” Leahy said.
Leahy said 127 events at were held at the CCCC from March 2020, when the pandemic began, into June of this year. But not many came with the excitement of these future events knowing there should be full crowds and live atmospheres.
The CCCC is aggressively hiring people to work on the events and facilities staff preparing for those much larger crowds.