Take it outside

I am inspired to respond to Mr. Alexander’s illuminating commentary on the Civic Center [“Now’s the Time,” Aug. 8] [regarding] such [issues] as overdue roof repairs, indecision in the selection process for thousands of varying event possibilities, and the astonishing fact that it sits empty at times like the Bele Chere fest. After having mixed reactions to the great concerts being held at the Biltmore, to whom we are indebted for the income generated in the community, the best part of these concerts is the location: outdoors.

It seems to me [that] a town like Asheville and the mountains of WNC deserve a better venue than any of the larger spaces can offer—such as the Biltmore, which is chastened by its other operations (hotel, tours and tourists etc.); The Orange Peel, which is too small for big events; and the Civic Center, which is a dinosaur in deterioration with dismal sound quality and an ugly, barren interior.

Why not put the funds towards an outdoor, open stadium that could be a beautiful stone-walled arena with wide terraces covered in grass and backed by weatherproof benches (for those such as the elderly and disabled who can’t sit on the grassy part of the terraces), surrounding a large, open, grassy space in the middle with a stage at one end. It could be large enough to accommodate fairs, games and big-name bands, with room for large-scale dancing, and the sound quality would be infinitely better than the echo of noise that fills the Civic Center. Since we enjoy beautiful weather most of the year, it could be the gem in the crown of our beautiful home. Imagine being able to enjoy a symphony or Shakespearian play in the round, or rock out to a band such as the B-52’s, surrounded by mountain views and stars glittering overhead. Perhaps an automated tarp system could be set up for inclement weather. The Civic Center could be turned into a smaller, winter venue—or parking garage. I don’t know if the Woodfin site would be appropriate, but I’m sure there are options available. It would be like having our very own Celtic-Roman amphitheater [that] we could all enjoy and be proud of.

— Julia Brooke-Childs

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