Monday, June 17, 2024

Arena celebrating 20 years as one of Bossier City’s landmarks

by BIZ Magazine

Since opening its doors in the late fall of 2000, the Brookshire Grocery Arena, formerly CenturyLink Center, CenturyTel Center, and Bossier City Arena, has been on the map as one of the top entertainment destinations in the south.

Due to the vision, careful planning and coordination by former Bossier City Mayor George Dement, Bossier City public officials, as well as the design and construction teams, patrons throughout the Ark-La-Tex enjoy events at one of the most modern venues in the country. 

“The City of Bossier City, owner of the arena, had the foresight to invest in building the right size arena, in the right site at the right time, all to enhance the quality of life for people in our community.  The City has also continued to reinvest in the arena to keep our venue beautiful, comfortable, and functional in meeting the evolving needs and desires of people who love entertainment,” said Rebecca Bonnevier, ASM Global general manager of the Brookshire Grocery Arena. 

In August 2017, the Bossier City Council approved to borrow up to $10 million for the Brookshire Grocery Arena, formerly CenturyLink Center, upgrades. The borrowed funds are being paid back using revenue from a $3 restoration fee for every ticket sold at the arena.

Even during a global pandemic, it was announced during a news conference at the former-CenturyLink Center on December 10, 2020, that Brookshire Grocery Company (BGC) had purchased the naming rights of the Bossier City arena to be known as the Brookshire Grocery Arena, which Bonnevier says is a perfect partnership.

“Brookshire’s partnership with our arena is a perfect fit.  The Brookshire’s Grocery Company owns a number of stores in our area, where they offer our community products and selections that greatly enhance our quality of life.  Brookshire’s also places an enormous emphasis on excellent customer service and experiences, which aligns with our goals at the arena.  And frankly, right now, during our industry’s temporary hiatus, the fact that Brookshire’s has come to the table, pun intended, with a significant naming right’s partnership for our arena that is stronger and more beneficial than ever, speaks volumes about the company’s commitment to our community,” said Bonnevier.

The partnership with BGC runs through 2030 and will start with a six-month branding period as the venue undergoes the transition.

“Our arena was first called CenturyTel Center, and then CenturyLink Center.  As of January 1, 2021, we are now named Brookshire Grocery Arena, which will take some folks a little practice.  But soon, the Brookshire Grocery Arena name will become second nature and will be associated with incredible entertainment experiences people will remember for a lifetime,” said Bonnevier.

Built for comfort, convenience, and total enjoyment, the Brookshire Grocery Arena offers large food courts, fully upholstered seats with cup-holders, Front Row Bar, Backstage Bayou (party room), Casting Call Lounge and the convenience of more than 200 restroom facilities, and more than 4,000 parking spaces.

“Having a 14,000-seat arena in Bossier City has had a positive impact on the quality of life for people in the region.  People don’t have to drive to Dallas or New Orleans to see A-list entertainment.  People can come to Brookshire Grocery Arena, park for free, enjoy top-notch acts and then drive a few minutes home so they can sleep in their own beds,” Bonnevier said.

“In a few months when we reopen, guests will also be able to visit two newly rebranded bar areas called the Bud Barn, and Pelican Pier,” she added.

For the past 20 years the venue has created memorable moments for patrons throughout the Ark-La-Tex by hosting large name performers like Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Chris Stapleton, Pink and KISS, as well as the Olympic Qualifiers for Women’s Volleyball — the only event of its kind in the United States. 

“There are so many wonderful memories over the last 20 years!  The Grand Opening Concert with Elton John, December 2, 2000 was historic!  But Garth Brooks in 2016 really stands out. There was an enormous amount of logistics to prepare, especially for the two Saturday night back-to-back shows. We utilized our resources, and with the support of our surrounding cities, we were able to orchestrate everything, resulting in three successful sold-out Garth Brooks shows performed right here in Bossier City!  That was special!,” Bonnevier said.

“Another stand out was Paul McCartney in 2017.  His management came from the UK to inspect our facility long before they would contract, and we passed with flying colors!  After a few months of planning an enormous list of details, including what Paul would see from his car window on his drive here from the airport, Sir Paul McCartney performed the highest grossing show ever performed in Bossier City.  And, yes, I got to meet him!  He held my hand and I have a picture to prove it!,” she added.  

Looking forward, Bonnevier believes when the musical entertainment industry opens back up. The Brookshire Grocery Arena will see an influx of shows.  

“2019 was one of our strongest years ever in terms of the quantity and quality of shows, however our arena, and our industry,  like so many others, took a huge hit when we needed to shut down to help minimize the spread of Covid.  But our country, and our community are resilient.  And after more than a year of hibernation for some, and a fight for life for others, I think we will see an abundance of people eager to socialize. Also, entertainers will be anxious to tour again soon after the availability of vaccines become widespread.  I think we will see an influx of shows and the arena and team are prepared with new safe protocols and procedures so our guests can socialize and be entertained safely,” said Bonnevier.

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