Civic Center attendance up from 2008

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Officials at the Albany Civic Center saw nearly 9,000 more people attending events in 2009 over 2008, officials say.

According to figures released by the city of Albany, 158,465 people attended 114 events at the Civic Center in 2009, generating an estimated $8.5 million economic impact for the local economy.

"To be honest, we were surprised that the attendance had gone up so much. We expected to have more, because we've had more events. But we didn't expect 9,000 more," said Assistant City Manager Wes Smith, who oversees Civic Center Director John Mazzola said.

The Civic Center is often a point of criticism because of the taxpayer dollars that go into keeping the complex functional -- despite the fact the Civic Center is rarely able generate enough revenue to repay what it is given.

"Civic centers in municipalities are traditionally not money-makers, but instead are quality-of-life services that are meant for the enjoyment of the public, who, in turn, spend their money and benefit the local economy," Smith said.

But Smith says that it's encouraging that despite a fierce recession, people were still coming to events at the facility.

"It's even more surprising when you see that people are spending their money," Smith said.

In recent years, the Civic Center has hosted a number of high-profile events, including shows by comedians Steve Harvey and Larry the Cable Guy, plays by Tyler Perry, events such as TNA Wrestling and the upcoming Disney Live! Rockin' Road Show, and concerts by George Jones and Darius Rucker.