Pigeon Forge's LeConte Center on schedule to open in 2013

Jan. 05, 2013 @ 11:25 PM

Construction of the LeConte Center is proceeding on schedule, according to Assistant City Manager Eric Brackins. The city's $45 million events facility is slated to open in September.

"Everything is on time, and we're on budget," Brackins said

"The Industrial Development Board continues to meet with the contractor, the architect and an events center consultant, to make sure everything is progressing as it supposed to be," Brackins said. "We're very happy with where we are."

Ground for the LeConte Center was broken in October 2011. The facility will feature 100,500 square feet of clear-span meeting space, as well as smaller event spaces.

The center is expected to host trade shows and religious gatherings, as well as sports events such as gymnastics and cheerleading.

"It will accomodate groups of up to 10,000, and it won't take any groups smaller than 3,000," Brackins said. "We don't want to compete with private business here in town," he added, referring to hotels and other facilities with their own convention centers.

The LeConte Center will be available for events year-round. Currently, 13 weeks' worth of events are booked, Brackins said. The first is the International Gift Exposition in the Smokies/Souvenir Super Show, scheduled for November.

In September 2014, the center will host the National Quartet Convention. The southern gospel music event will move from Louisville, Ky., where it has been held since 1993. The Louisville event attracts about 40,000 participants.

"We want to grow the economic base," said Brackins of the city's hopes for the center. "We want to have new visitors coming to the city who weren't coming before."