The Classic Center
Downtown Athens, GA
The Classic Center recently launched ELEVATE, a bold and exciting initiative designed to enhance and expand The Classic Center’s music, education, and entertainment programming.
More than 100 business, education, government, and community leaders were involved in developing this strategic plan through a series of workshops and one-on-one interviews over seven months.
The plan will raise $5.5 million in private funding over the next five years and is focused on elevating music, entertainment, and education through innovative programs at The Classic Center, all of which will benefit Athens-Clarke County and the entire state of Georgia.
The music pillar of ELEVATE will display the contents of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame to the new Classic Center Arena, establishing an interactive music experience. This will create a destination for Athens-Clarke County residents and attract 400,000 visitors annually from throughout Georgia and surrounding states while also creating 90,000 additional hotel room nights per year within Athens-Clarke County.
The entertainment pillar of ELEVATE will endow an enrichment fund to bring premier touring acts to Athens. This will increase the Athens-Clarke County economy and generate $30 million in new economic impact within the region annually. This endowment will allow The Classic Center to bring never before seen sporting events, family shows, large concerts, and more to Athens. The new arena will generate 300 event days per year and 125 additional events.
The education pillar of ELEVATE will further establish a Hospitality Learning Lab within The Classic Center, encompassing the new arena. The Hospitality Learning Lab will provide local students with a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience in managing music, arts, sports, and entertainment events and help connect them with career opportunities in the hospitality industry with median salary offerings at $36,000 annually with growth opportunities of over $100,000.
What is the ELEVATE initiative?
ELEVATE is a five-year program to expand tourism, enhance workforce development, and attract bigger and better entertainment offerings to Athens-Clarke County.
Who is leading the ELEVATE initiative?
The Classic Center, in cooperation with their corporate and community partners, along with The Classic Center Cultural Foundation, are leading the ELEVATE campaign.
How much funding will this initiative need?
ELEVATE will raise approximately $5.5 million over the next five years.
How will the ELEVATE program be funded?
This extraordinary program will be underwritten through a community-wide fundraising campaign. This public-private partnership will invest a minimum of $5.5 million over the next five years, or an average of $1.1 million per year.
How will the ELEVATE initiative benefit the Athens-Clarke County area?
There are six immediate benefits. The ELEVATE program, through The Classic Center, will:
- Establish a one-of-a-kind venue to showcase the Georgia Music Hall of Fame collection in the new Classic Center Arena. This educational attraction will draw tourists from around the state and the southeast.
- Create a Hospitality Learning Lab on The Classic Center campus. In collaboration with Piedmont University, The Classic Center will provide one-of-a-kind hands-on experience to students seeking a career in music, arts, sports, and entertainment event management.
- Create an Entertainment Enrichment Fund to incentivize large touring acts to come to Athens and the new Classic Center Arena.
- Establish Athens as the “Southeast’s Center of Excellence for Music, Arts, Education, Sports, and Entertainment,” and entice families and businesses to consider relocating to Athens-Clarke County.
- Enhance the economic well-being of Athens-Clarke County by strengthening its position as a visitor and tourist destination, which will increase generated economic impact.
- Improve the quality of life for all who live, work, and play in Athens-Clarke County and the surrounding area.
What will be the economic impact of the ELEVATE initiative in Athens- Clarke County?
ELEVATE, through the new arena, will provide the following:
- Increase hotel room nights by 90,000 annually
- Provide $30 million in economic impact for Athens-Clarke County annually
- The new Classic Center Arena will attract 80,000 visitors annually
- Create over 600 new jobs with the increase of new business
- Generate $120 million in new capital investments for the hospitality industry and economic development projects in the region
Who will benefit from the ELEVATE initiative?
Every business and every citizen of Athens-Clarke County and the surrounding region will ultimately benefit from this project. This project will generate increases in tourism spending, enhanced education and workforce development programs, and top-level entertainment and economic development projects, which will create new jobs, expand payrolls, and create new tax revenue opportunities.
How much should we pledge?
Each pledge request for the ELEVATE initiative has been carefully considered and evaluated. A campaign volunteer will contact you to arrange an appointment to present the project, answer any questions you may have, and discuss your five-year investment in this important program.
How was the amount of my pledge request determined?
A select committee of corporate and community leaders representing all sectors of the greater Athens-Clarke County area carefully determined each pledge request in the ELEVATE campaign. This Campaign Evaluation Committee considered the financial capacity of each corporate and individual prospect as well as their leadership role in our community before suggesting a target pledge request.
Is our investment in ELEVATE tax deductible?
Yes, pledges to the ELEVATE campaign are 100% tax deductible. Pledges will be made to The Classic Center Cultural Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. You should contact your tax professional for specific information and consultation.
How will we be kept informed of the progress and achievements of the ELEVATE initiative?
The general public will be kept informed through The Classic Center website and media releases. All ELEVATE stakeholders, supporters, and volunteers will receive updates of more detailed progress through regular reports over the next five years.
Will we receive recognition of our investment in ELEVATE?
Yes. A permanent display will be erected at The Classic Center to honor and thank those who support this extraordinary project.
Will there be naming rights and sponsorship opportunities in the ELEVATE initiative?
Yes. There will be naming rights and sponsorship opportunities available. Please reach out to Foundation@ClassicCenter.com to learn more about these opportunities.
Director, UGA Music Business Program
"I support The Classic Center Arena. As a long-time citizen, I feel that each expansion of The Classic Center has brought more large events to Athens, helping both downtown businesses and the labor force that staffs these events. This arena will expand the scope of possible programming for Athens, including larger scale concerts that are not currently possible in Athens. In addition to continuing to help the sectors of the local economy that The Classic Center already enhances, this could be a boom for our local concert promoters and production crews, as well as providing opportunities for UGA Music Business students to work alongside professionals at major concert events."
Senior Director of Development, UGA Libraries
"By partnering with The Classic Center, the University of Georgia can grow the Georgia Music Hall of Fame collection. They have the exhibit area that we do not have, so it is the perfect marriage. We want to attract K-12 students to the exhibits at The Classic Center and have students design and create the display along with the UGA faculty and curriculum designers."
Paul Cramer, CVE
President/CEO, The Classic Center
“I think that there is a lot of opportunity for people to enter this building at an entry level position and within a very short period of time become a supervisor or a department head.”
President/Chairman, burton+Burton, ELEVATE Campaign Advance Division Co-Chair
“I think that the people that train at The Classic Center do an excellent job. They are really into customer service, which can lead over to any job.”
Dr. Alphonso Buie
Program Chair Hotel, Restaurant, & Tourism Management & Culinary Arts, Athens Technical College
“As a program chair I really do appreciate what The Classic Center does. They really exemplify hospitality through and through. They are one of the ideal places that I want my student to go because they are going to learn hospitality there.”
Regional External Affairs Manager, Georgia Power Company
"The Classic Center is a large economic engine in our community for tourism. The tourism business generates taxes, and jobs for Athens-Clarke County, and revenues for our local commercial businesses. Tourism has become a leading contributor to Georgia’s economic growth.”
Danny Bryant, CVP
General Manager, The Classic Center Arena
"This endowment will allow us to bring never before seen sporting events, family shows, monster truck rallies, and rodeos to Athens. These events will be fun and unique for Athens' residents and visitors of all ages. Having an endowment of this size will also promote tourism in Athens, as people will travel from all over the Southeast to see these popular events."
President, Athens Area Chamber of Commerce
“The arena is going to continue to build upon the brand of Athens as a community that cherishes its music, cherishes its hospitality, and that helps drive an economy that works for everybody.”
Elizabeth & Roberto Goizueta
Golden Pantry Food Stores Inc.
Jinx & Gordhan Patel
Nichols Land & Investment Company
St. Mary's Health Care System
Waste Pro GA
Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, PC
burton + BURTON
Coldwell Banker Upchurch Realty
Ann & Jack Crowley
Matt and John Dixon / The Briscoe Family Foundation
Heyward Allen Cadillac Buick GMC Toyota
Jittery Joe's Coffee
Phil Hughes Honda
Piedmont Athens Regional
Zoom Bait Company
Armentrout Matheny Thurmond
Sharon & Gary Avants
Best Western of Athens
Lauren & Chad Brown
Stephanie C. Bryant in Memory of E. Clay Bryant, Jr.
Geneele & Archie Crenshaw
Kelly & David Felt
McRae Family Dental
James Bates Brannan Groover LLP
The Newland Family Foundation, Inc.
Victoria Prevatt & Evan Elder
First American Bank & Trust Co.
Kathy Hoard & Kent Smith
Christie & Phil Bettendorf
Debbie & Robert Brown
Beth & Danny Bryant
Marty & Jeff Carter
Nikki & R.J. Chester
Classic City Bank
Cofer's Home and Garden
Susan & Jim Cooper
Stacey & Paul Cramer
Helen & Tim DeMott
Laurie & Bill Douglas
Brenda & William Dupre
Brittany Link & Kellie Fuss
Fortson, Bentley & Griffin
Kylie & Ben Hutson
Pamela & Tom Kaminski
Kim & Ed Keegan
Lois & Bill Kemper
Stephanie & Kurt Kosloske
Cheri & Vance Leavy
Linda & Charlie Maddox
June & Paul Martin
Tina & Shannon McCullough
Sarah & John McKinney
Claudia & John Noell
The Thomas W. Scott, III Fund
Tres & Robert Small
Michele & Robert Tucker
United Community Bank
Stephanie & Peter VanDyck
Niki & Philip Verrastro
Margaret & Hoke Wilder
Dianne Penny & Smith Wilson
Jennifer & Wes Zwirn
Campaign General Chair
Campaign Leadership Council Tri-Chairs
Christy Terrell Faye Chambers Rhodes McLanahan Georgia Power Company Zoom Bait Company First American Bank & Trust
Advance Division Co-Chairs
Maxine Burton Charlie Upchurch
burton + BURTON Coldwell Banker Upchurch Realty
Leadership Division Tri-Chairs
Chad Brown Ryan Hammock Matthew McRae III
The Tax Shelter Pinnacle Bank McRae Family Dental
Friends & Family Division Co-Chairs
Jinx Patel Jack Crowley
The Classic Center Cultural Foundation The Classic Center Authority
- Phil Bettendorf, Synovus
- Maxine Burton, burton + BURTON
- Jack Crowley, The Classic Center Authority
- Evan Elder, Synovus
- Ryan Hammock, Pinnacle Bank
- Robert Hardell, Synovus
- Kathy Hoard
- Apryl Hughes, Phil Hughes Automotive Group
- Jim Jones, Regions
- Walker Keadle, Truist
- Cheri Leavy, Bulldawg Illustrated
- David Matheny, Armentrout Matheny Thurmond
- Matthew "Trai" McRae, McRae Family Dental
- Jimmy Newland, burton + Burton
- Gwen O'Looney
- Jinx Patel, The Classic Center Cultural Foundation
- Gregory Sowell, James-Bates-Brannan-Groover
- Will Thompson, James-Bates-Brannan-Groover
- Charlie Upchurch, Coldwell Banker Upchurch Realty
- Michael White, James-Bates-Brannan-Groover