New Pigeon Forge events center expected to bring millions

New Pigeon Forge events center expected to bring millions into local economy

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By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - A $50 million project under construction in Pigeon Forge promises to bring millions to the local economy.

The LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge is being built on Teaster Lane. Construction will be completed in less than a year.

City officials say the project is on time and under budget. The building will be one of the largest in the area and will be one-of-a-kind.  

"The thing unique about this building, we have 105,000-square feet of free span space where there are no columns," said Pigeon Forge Tourism Director Leon Downey. "The lowest ceiling height is 30 feet high."

Downey will be in charge of the center. He says it will hold up to 12,000 people.

Pigeon Forge officials do not like to call the facility a convention center, but rather an event center. Downey says he hopes it will cater to more than just conventions.

"What we are going after are privately-owned events, primarily hosted trade shows, large assembly groups, competitive events, special events and festivals," said Downey.

So far four major events have already been announced that will be coming to the center once it opens.

"The National Quartet Convention announced they were moving here from Louisville the last week in September in 2014 and 2015," said Downey.

Downey says that convention alone will bring 40,000 people to Pigeon Forge and bring an estimated $8 million into the local economy.
     
"As a hotel we are always excited about having more opportunities to bring more folks to the Pigeon forge, Sevier County area," said Pigeon Forge Comfort Inn owner Ken Maples.
     
City officials say they are in the process of booking even more events to the center and plan to make more announcements soon.

The planning for the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge started back in 2010. It is being paid for through state bond financing.
       
City officials say they are expected to get the keys to the building on September 2, 2013.

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