Editorial: Is LeConte Center a symbol of good things to come?

Oct. 09, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

Pigeon Forge city officials should be proud of the municipality’s new LeConte Center.

The beautiful 232,000-square-foot  multipurpose facility— situated perfectly along Teaster Lane before the incredible backdrop of its namesake, Mt. LeConte— opened Tuesday to rave reviews from the hundreds of people present for its ribbon cutting and first public tours.

The $45 million project was constructed with the hopes that drawing large conventions and other tourism-related events would drive economic development in not only the city, but the county as a whole.

So far, so good, it seems.

Officials from the National Quartet Convention announced in the lead-up to the ribbon cutting that they’ve already booked over 5,000 room-nights for area lodging businesses in anticipation of the group’s 2014 event — which is still nearly a year away.

In addition, some smaller conferences and gatherings also expressed their participants’ pleasure in the new Pigeon Forge site, which will accommodate exhibitions and shows too large for already-operating venues in the area.

Beyond the new building itself, a new awakening seems to be arising with the construction of the LeConte Center.

In what could be the most promising development related to the new facility, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are working together to co-host some large events — combining each of the cities’ sparkling new convention centers to provide a mega-sized location for trade groups and organizations that need larger space than either can provide alone.

It’s that spirit of camaraderie that’s needed in this county — the attitude of can-do and cooperation that’s been growing steadily through the neighboring communities over the past few decades.

It’s that attitude that leaves behind petty clannishness and one-upmanship that hindered growth and progress in the past.

It’s that spirit of mutual support and kinship that will take Sevier County to heights it’s never achieved.