Ticket-holders waiting to attend upcoming concerts at the North Charleston Coliseum shouldn't be inconvenienced by the building's renovations scheduled to start this week. Neither should South Carolina Stingray hockey fans looking forward to the start of the season this fall.
Ground-breaking for the $18 million overhaul is set for Friday, and officials said it shouldn't cause any interruptions to parking, seating or the entertainment line-up between now and when the work is scheduled to finish in October 2011.
The 12,500-seat Coliseum, now in its 17th year of operation, is seeing its first major overhaul, largely in the form of two additions.
"It's keeping up with the times," said Dave Holscher, general manager at the Coliseum.
The work will extend the building's north and south sides to add 30,000 feet of space for events deemed too small for the adjacent Performing Arts Center, such as smaller-draw musical artists, comedy shows and catered receptions.
Elsewhere, more ticket booths will be put in, as will a larger concession area suitable for a larger menu. The luxury suite areas also will be upgraded so they are comparable to an NBA-caliber arena, officials said.
In the rafters, the audio system will be reworked and the overhead rigging will be changed to allow performances to be set up more easily, a plus for shows that rely on aerial work.
But the biggest change will be creating two expanded food courts and 40 new points of sale. A larger kitchen will allow for grilled and baked foods, and these courts also could serve sushi, local barbecue and micro-brew beer.
"It gets pretty snug in the concourse," Holscher said, adding the goal is to do away with lines and bottlenecks that are known to block people trying to get to their seating or to the bathrooms.
The first phase, called Montague Terrace, will begin on the Montague Avenue side and will be completed by next spring. The second phase is expected to begin next spring on the north, or International Boulevard, side.
The Montague side will be the building's new main entrance. Ticket prices aren't expected to be affected by the cost. North Charleston has $8 million available from bond sales for the first phase of the project.
Mayor Keith Summey said the seating capacity for the Coliseum is more than adequate for the Lowcountry- area market, and that the upgrades are designed more to keep the building and its amenities current.
"What we are doing is giving 20 new years of life to the product that is there," he said.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.