KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Ahead of the 40th anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, the event’s most iconic landmark is reopening to visitors after enhancements to the observation deck.
The Sunsphere at World’s Fair Park closed in March 2020 as COVID-19 cases began to spread across the world. Local leaders used the closure to enhance its fourth-floor observation deck, which has remained largely unchanged since it reopened to the public in 2014.
After the enhancements, the observation deck will now reopen to the public on Feb. 22. Visit Knoxville said last year that they were already pursuing staff for the observation deck to engage visitors and discuss the city’s history.
In 2019, Visit Knoxville along with city and county leaders created the Sunsphere Fund to preserve and maintain the historic structure. The fund began selling Sunsphere ornaments with a portion of sales going to preservation.
World’s Fair Park hosted the ‘Sunsphere Sundays’ concert series last October to informally kick off the 40th-anniversary celebration of the Knoxville World’s Fair taking place in May 2022. A portion of all sales from the series benefitted the Sunsphere Fund.
The Sunsphere is the only structure that remains from the 1982 World’s Fair. The observation was briefly reopened in 1999 but quickly closed during the construction of the nearby Knoxville Convention Center.
The observation deck reopened in 2007 following renovations under Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. It closed for several months in 2014 while undergoing extensive renovations.