There it grows again
Famously driven and impatient, Matt Brown has been known to break a few eggs while baking in consistent success at the Greensboro Coliseum.
But rarely has it been said that he isn’t good at what he does.
As the longtime managing director of the coliseum complex, Brown has been inventive and resourceful.
Just when you think the sprawling sports and entertainment complex is a finished product, he his staff keep reminding us that it’s still a work in progress. Maybe forever.
A case in point is the new Piedmont Hall performance space.
Carved from a portion of the old Canada Dry Bottling Co. building, the 20,000-square-foot indoor venue can accommodate a crowd of up to 2,300 and adds another option to the coliseum’s long list of amenities.
It opened Friday night with a concert by the country performers Aaron Lewis and the Stateliners.
Among other notable headliners already booked for the venue is singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, who is scheduled to perform there Nov. 2.
Piedmont Hall’s niche might be best described as “just right” — the perfect size for attractions that are too big for smaller venues but not quite big enough for the larger ones. The multi-level space, which features more standing room for concerts than seats, also should particularly appeal to younger audiences.
The space also will play a key role as a cog in the larger coliseum machine.
During such huge events as the ACC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, it can provide a setting for related activities, such as banquets and receptions.
Incidentally, no taxpayer money was spent on the $4 million renovation. Obviously seeing a market for the space, LiveNation/Ticketmaster and the coliseum’s caterer, Spectra Food Services, paid the bill.
Piedmont Hall also should help the coliseum lure other major sporting and entertainment events to the city.
What will Brown and his staff come up with next? Who knows?
If you’re keeping score, at last count, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex included:
- The Greensboro Coliseum (22,000 capacity).
- The White Oak Amphitheater (7,000).
- The Special Events Center (5,000).
- The Odeon Theater (300).
- The Greensboro Aquatic Center.
- The Terrace banquet room.
- And the Greensboro Swarm’s home basketball court, the Fieldhouse.
As if that’s not enough to say grace over, Brown and his staff also will manage the downtown Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, when it opens in 2020.
Oh, and the coliseum also books events for Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.
We’ve wondered whether all of this was too much to effectively supervise.
But so far, so good.
We once joked in this space that Brown wouldn’t stop until he had created a small city on the coliseum grounds.
Don’t look now, but he’s getting close.
The crime puzzle
During a presentation last week on high crime rates in Greensboro, the City Council furrowed its collective brow and asked: Why?
Among the disturbing numbers shared by Assistant City Manager Nathaniel “Trey” Davis at a council work session was the number of homicides in the city in 2019, which stood at the time at 27. And the number of aggravated assaults by firearms the year before (a staggering 800).
What to do?
- Hire more police officers?
- Do more to address poverty and education?
- Dig deeper into the reasons certain parts of the city are particularly affected?
- Institute a national program called Cure Violence that has seen success in other cities? (The city really needs to move
- on that one.)
Possibly all of the above ... and more. There is no one cause and there will be no one cure. But this won’t be easy. A community conversation, as some council members suggested, would be a good start.
But talk has to be followed by tangible action. We’ve talked before.
Meanwhile, as of Friday, the number of homicides in Greensboro had climbed to 29.