KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Next year the city will celebrate the 40th anniversary of hosting the 1982 World’s Fair. Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville, sees the milestone as an opportunity make some improvements to the city’s iconic Sunsphere.
“If they don’t know about the World’s Fair, or they’ve never been here before, the one thing they do see is this big, gold ball in the air,” Bumpas said. “That is a huge opportunity for us, in Knoxville, to be able to tell that story at the next level.”
Visit Knoxville, with the support of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, is hosting a four-part concert series throughout October, beginning this weekend, called Sunsphere Sundays. According to the event website, a portion of all sales from the four events will enhance the structure including it’s public observation deck.
Bumpas emphasized Thursday there are no problems with the Sunsphere, and that it’s been well-maintained by the Public Building Authority.
“There’s no issues with the Sunsphere. The fund is 100% about enhancing the observation deck, telling the story of the 1982 World’s Fair, and also celebrating the structure that is the Sunsphere,” she said.
The Sunsphere is currently closed to the public while it undergoes renovations. Bumpas said it likely won’t reopen until 2022.
A committee will be formed to determine what ideas receive money from the fund. Those projects could range from inside or outside the structure or around the base.
“If we, as a community, want to do something really big and crazy with the Sunsphere that’s really outside an operational expense. This is what that fund can do,” she said.
Visit Knoxville is already pursing staff for the observation deck to engage visitors and talk about the city’s history, including the World’s Fair.
Sunsphere Sundays begin this weekend, Oct. 10, with Nashville-based pop-rock trio Coin at World’s Fair Park. Concertgoers have to either bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test completed within 72 hour prior to the event.
Other acts include Dawes (Oct. 17), The Lone Bellow (Oct. 24), and St. Paul & the Broken Bones (Oct. 31).
For tickets and information, visit sunspheresundays.com.