What is the future of Albany's Civic Center?

What is the future of Albany's Civic Center?
Downtown Manager Sharlene Cannon
Downtown Manager Sharlene Cannon

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The summer of 2013 was last time the Panthers played as a team in the Professional Indoor Football League from Albany, GA.

The team's games inside the James H. Gray Civic Center were once hailed as a top revenue generator for the venue.

But the team's official departure in February meant the team's fourth season as an Albany Team would be their last, due to poor ticket sales and not enough sponsorships.

The center is rarely used, after other events including the Georgia Peanut Farm Show and celebrity quail hunt activities recently moved to other venues.

Leaders of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority believe a new study may hold a better solution for the future of the Civic Center.

The study, led by a group called Strategic Advisors focused on how it impacts downtown Albany.

It also addressed critical elements needed for the center to stay open and others for closing it down.

The Civic Center requires $1 million per year to stay open. Officials have struggled to ever support the venue in the three decades it has been open.

Albany's Downtown Manager Sharlene Cannon said the building is likely outdated, and lacks modern equipment for large-scale entertainment seen in other cities.

"If it stays, how can we better utilize it and if it doesn't how can we best utilize that optimum corner of downtown?" Cannon noted. "And what can we put there that would have a tremendous impact?"

The Civic Center became a target of crime over the summer, as it was burglarized twice.

Police said someone stole a flat-screen TV and a pressure washer.

Cannon said leaders will go before the City Commission to present the findings for consideration.

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