ALBANY — When Josh Turner performed his hits “Hometown Girl” and “Your Man,” it was during the last regularly scheduled show inside the Albany Civic Center.
That was on what seemed a lifetime ago ... March 19, 2020.
Since then, there have been some outdoor movies in the parking lot of the venue, high school graduation ceremonies, a recent tipoff basketball tournament for Dougherty County schools and most recently early voting in the election runoff during December.
But under current circumstances, it is likely to be well into 2021 before something approaching regular operations resume at the civic center.
The Casting Crowns’ “Only Jesus Tour” performance has been rescheduled from April 10 to Oct. 29, and “The Price is Right Live” show from April 22 to Nov. 3 of this year.
That is the time frame that the Flint River Entertainment Center, which includes the civic center, the Albany Municipal Auditorium and the Veterans Park Amphitheatre, is currently anticipating for live indoor shows, said Josh Small, the venue’s general manager.
“We’re pretty much doing like everybody else, watching how the pandemic is going and how vaccinations go,” he said. “We’re still in that wait-and-see mode.”
Since the Thanksgiving holiday, much of the country has experienced a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus and associated increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19. The pandemic has led to the cancellation or rescheduling of numerous events throughout the nation, and live concerts and floor shows in arenas were among the earliest and longest-lasting casualties on that front.
“As the vaccinations take hold and hopefully the (transmission) rate starts to drop, we’ll look at some live events,” Small said.
In the interim, the civic center has provided some drive-in movie events. When warmer weather returns other outdoor events could be forthcoming.
“We’re evaluating some different opportunities,” Small said. “It’s a little bit difficult with the number of COVID cases and the weather not being good. We’re looking at some events we can do in the next couple of months.”
The staff has cut down on spending, by such means as reducing utility costs, to save money during the time of dried-up revenue, Small said. Through the city of Albany, it received some assistance through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that helped provide protective gear such as plastic shields and hand sanitizer to comply with Gov. Brian Kemp’s coronavirus measures.
Meanwhile the business of maintenance and planning continues.
“The venues have some age on them, but they have to be kept up so we can be ready to go,” Small said. “Every day, we’re still looking and evaluating on different shows we can bring. As soon as we can bring crowds back in, we have a game plan in place for when that time comes.”