By Preston Williams
The dust has now settled from the opening of the Arena and Grand Ballroom. In fact, it has now been two years since we opened our doors to the public. It is hard to believe how quickly the time passes. And even harder to believe that in January the one-millionth person will walk through the doors of The Arena at Gwinnett Center. It wasn”t that long ago that the doors were opening to the Convention Center and Performing Arts Center. The objectives at that time included creating a place for the arts to flourish and business and community to meet – all the while laying an economic foundation for the long term growth of Gwinnett. We were working to become a facility that would attract both businesses and families to the community. We thrived to be an upscale destination for family friendly events and entertainment, a top-notch business and social meeting place surrounded by a cultural atmosphere. When we opened the Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center, the concept of Gwinnett Center was just a passing thought. It was impossible to even guess at the transformation that would be taking place and the difference that would be made to the area.
With acts such as George Strait, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, The Eagles – The Arena and arena patrons have certainly left a mark. It is the one million patrons that have turned the area surrounding Gwinnett Center in to just that – Gwinnett”s Center.
A few years ago, the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway and Satellite Boulevard included the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts, the Children”s Art Museum, a 702-seat Performing Arts Center and a Convention Center with 14 versatile meeting rooms. What a difference a few years can make! The intersection is now a hub of activity. The addition of the Arena and Grand Ballroom not only brought growth to our facility but to the immediate area as well. Now as you drive down Sugarloaf, you see new hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, apartments and homes along the way. Gwinnett Place Mall, Discover Mills (and its new movie theater) and the Mall of Georgia are all minutes away – especially if you utilize Gwinnett”s transit system.
Gwinnett Center and all of the surrounding outlets for entertainment are indeed becoming the hot spot of the county and some would say "Gwinnett”s downtown." We at Gwinnett Center hope that our entertainment and meeting space will be a constant contributor to this hub of activity and flow of people.
To maintain a downtown atmosphere of variety and growth, we always adopt a community first attitude. We”ve got ample space to entertain our community, from exhibit halls to ballrooms to meeting rooms and the arena. We have space to meet the constantly changing needs of our area – from reoccurring events such as Gwinnett Philharmonic Plays Great Music (January 18), The Louisiana Club”s Krewe Saints 17th Annual Mardi GrasTableau and Ball (January 22), Georgia Bridal Show (February 6), the 8th Annual Home and Garden Show (February 18-22) and the Atlanta Fly Fishing Festival (February 26-27) to arena entertainment such as the Russell Athletic Shootout (February 13), Yanni (February 22),
The Eagles "Farewell" Tour (March 10), Smucker”s Stars on Ice (March 29) and Bill Gaither and Homecoming Friends (April 29). With business meetings, luncheons, banquets, weddings, proms, graduations, dances and concerts al