Coming soon to the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum: New seats! New lights! New ice floor!

The City of Knoxville is issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an architecture and engineering team to design and make recommendations for a number of improvements to existing facilities at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum (KCAC). The goal is to make investments that enable the KCAC to continue to operate effectively and efficiently for several more years until long-term decisions are made about its future.

KCAC, which includes the 6,500-capacity Coliseum and the 2,500-capacity Auditorium, opened its doors in 1961. It is owned by the City of Knoxville and managed under contract by SMG. It hosts hundreds of events each year and is home to the Knoxville Ice Bears professional hockey team. Event bookings at KCAC are up about 50 percent in the last two years.

A feasibility study in 2016 showed that the facility was outdated in many ways and recommended either complete renovation or building an entirely new Coliseum alongside an upgraded Auditorium. The cost estimates in 2016 ranged from $26 million for renovation to more than $140 million for a new Coliseum.

“I would love to be able to build a new Coliseum for the more than 250,000 people who attend events at KCAC every year,” Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “But with other pressing priorities, including the need for a new headquarters for our Police and Fire departments, it is not realistic to fund a project of that scale in the short term. So I’m recommending that we make some crucial upgrades in the next two years to address longstanding needs. We want to provide a good experience for everyone who comes to see music and shows and the Ice Bears. This will keep KCAC viable without eliminating future possibilities for the facility.”

The Request for Qualifications seeks a multidiscipline design team that will be tasked with designing and providing recommendations to the City on a list of proposed improvements. The preliminary list includes a number of base facility systems including the ice floor, air handling units and electrical infrastructure. It also includes items that will directly enhance the visitor experience, such as improved restrooms at the Coliseum, and new lighting, seats and carpet at the Auditorium. A complete list of the proposed improvements is attached.