During the interim contract, SMG will oversee about 30 city employees and manage event booking and daily operations for the facilities. SMG already manages the Knoxville Convention Center, which averages 240 events per year and has welcomed more than 3 million visitors since it opened in 2002.
“We have been very impressed with SMG’s work at the Convention Center, and they have the level of professional expertise we need to keep our venues operating while we pursue a longer-term solution to our management needs,” said Christi Branscom, Deputy to the Mayor and the City’s Chief Operating Officer. “SMG will ensure a great experience for the audiences, performers, sports teams and event organizers who use our facilities.”
SMG will not charge a management fee under the emergency contract, but the city will pay the company’s reimbursable operating expenses.
The future of the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum has been questioned in recent years. The city hired Urban Land Institute to examine the best uses of it and several other city owned properties. The group suggested that the city should do away with the facility altogether, and turn the area into a "vibrant, desirable, mixed-use community that includes diverse housing types and households."
In addition, the general manager of the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum retired and three other employees were fired earlier this month after an investigation discovered payroll irregularities.