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Editorial: Upgrades at arena are good investment

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 11:43 PM

The Big Sandy Superstore Arena is on a roll and getting some national recognition.

At a time when the concert business can be hit or miss, the arena has staged three sold-out country music shows in a row and continues to improve its regular lineup of seasonal shows and events, such as the World of Wheels this weekend.

That work was made easier by the large renovation project completed in early 2012 that included new seating, upgraded heating and air conditioning, new spotlights and updated dressing rooms.

Recently, the arena was listed as one of the renovated or new arenas to watch in 2013 by Billboard Magazine, the primary trade publication for the music and live performance industry. It was also recognized by Venues Today Magazine for its 2012 ticket sales, which ranked 11th in the world among venues with seating capacities between 5,001 and 10,000.

Those are nice accolades for the city, but the arena's vitality is good news for the Tri-State economy. The shows and events draw visitors from throughout the region and beyond, and those visits often include dining, lodging and shopping.

An economic study by Marshall University estimated the total impact of the area at about $17 million, generating $1 million in total state and local tax revenue. That is a big bang for the bucks. The city built the arena in 1977 for $10.6 million and provides an annual subsidy of about $350,000 and debt service of $586,000.

More improvements are planned, including renovating the plaza and increasing the number of box-office windows.

Keeping the arena up to date and vibrant is a good investment for Huntington and the Tri-State.

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