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Coordinates: 34°43′37″N 86°35′27″W / 34.726990°N 86.590887°W / 34.726990; -86.590887

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Von Braun Center
Aerial view of Von Braun Center.jpg
Aerial view of complex (c.2016)
Address 700 Monroe St
Huntsville, AL 35801-5579
Location Quigley
Owner City of Huntsville
Operator Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Renovated 2010
Opened March 14, 1975 (1975-03-14)
Construction cost $15 million
($71.9 million in 2018 dollars2018)
Former name(s) Huntsville Civic Center (planning/construction)
Von Braun Civic Center (1975-97)
Banquet/ballroom 6,700 (South Hall)
1,365 (East Hall)
1,200 (North Hall)
Theatre seating 6,000 (Propst Arena)
1,955 (Smith Concert Hall)
502 (The Playhouse)
Enclosed space
 Total space 368,938 square feet (34,275.5 m2)
 Exhibit hall floor 148,884 square feet (13,831.8 m2)
 Breakout/meeting 15,342 square feet (1,425.3 m2)
 Ballroom 16,280 square feet (1,512 m2)
Website
Building details
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General information
Current tenants Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (NCAA) (1979–present)
Huntsville Lasers (GBA) (1991–92)
Huntsville Blast (ECHL) (1993–94)
Huntsville Channel Cats (SHL/CHL/SEHL) (1995–2000, 2003–04)
Huntsville Fire (EISL) (1997–98)
Tennessee Valley Vipers (af2) (2000–04, 2006–09)
Huntsville Flight (NBDL) (2001–05)
Huntsville Havoc (SPHL) (2004–present)
Tennessee Valley Raptors (UIF) (2005)
Alabama Vipers (AFL) (2010)
Alabama Hammers (SIFL/PIFL) (2011–15)
Groundbreaking February 23, 1973 (1973-02-23)
Design and construction
Architect Booz-Allen-Hamilton
Renovating team
Architect Matheny Goldmon
Structural engineer Hodnett Hurst Engineers, Inc. and Geiger Engineers
Services engineer Peter Basso Associates
Civil engineer CRS Engineering, Inc.
Other designers AVANT ACOUSTICS LLC and Peerbolte Creative LLC
Main contractor VCC

The Von Braun Center (VBC), known as the Von Braun Civic Center (VBCC) until 1997, is a multi-purpose indoor arena, meeting, and performing arts complex, with a maximum arena seating capacity of 10,000, located in Huntsville, Alabama. The original facility debuted in 1975 and has undergone several significant expansions since opening.

The VBC, in addition to the arena, features multiple exhibit halls, a concert hall, a playhouse and many other facilities, for meetings and exhibits.

History

It is named in honor of Wernher von Braun, the German-American rocket scientist. After von Braun’s work for Nazi Germany in World War II, he was brought to the United States Army's Redstone Arsenal along with many colleagues via Operation Paperclip. Their work laid the foundation for the United States space program. Planning for the facility began in 1965. The original construction included the sports arena, an exhibit hall space now known as East Hall, a concert hall, a playhouse, and museum space for the Huntsville Museum of Art. The arena as originally built seated about 8,000 for concerts, and included scoreboards and a refrigerated floor for ice events. The concert hall included an orchestra rehearsal room, dressing space for performers, and a lounge for patrons. The facility, originally referred to as the "Von Braun Civic Center", opened on March 14, 1975.

The VBC's first expansion was a west-side addition to the exhibit hall, opened in 1980 and originally referred to as West Hall (the combined space is now called simply East Hall). Expanded kitchen facilities for catering were added in 1983. Originally this was a standalone building, but it became incorporated into the construction of North Hall in 1987. North Hall was constructed as a high-end exhibit and ballroom space, with carpeting and decorative lighting. A second-floor gallery can be opened to the main space or closed off, and it has a variety of meeting rooms and salons attached.

In 1993 the city was bidding to host a meeting of the American Bowling Congress, which would require space for bowling lanes and exhibits for six months. In order to supply the space, the city agreed to the construction of South Hall, which opened in 1997. South Hall is the VBC's largest exhibit space at 100,800 sq ft (9,365 m2); it includes a large lobby area, a partitionable ballroom, and an underground parking garage. Its construction involved eliminating a portion of Williams Avenue and re-routing part of Monroe Street. A sky walk connecting South Hall to a newly constructed adjacent hotel was added in 2006.

The oldest portions of the facility underwent renovation in 2011. The improvements included new seating for the arena, reconstruction of the arena and concert hall lobbies, and a new exterior facade.

Elvis Presley

According to The Von Braun Center website, Elvis Presley appeared May 30 through June 1, 1975 for an unprecedented five performances. It was the first time Elvis had played that many consecutive performances in a venue outside of Las Vegas or Stateline, Nevada.

Sports

The VBC is the home of the UAH Chargers ice hockey team and the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Former sports teams at the VBC include the Huntsville Lasers and Huntsville Flight basketball teams, the Huntsville Blast and Huntsville Channel Cats ice hockey teams, the Huntsville Fire (EISL) soccer team, the Alabama Vipers arena football team, and the Alabama Hammers of the Professional Indoor Football League.. The arena at one time hosted public ice skating, and youth hockey and figure skating programs, but those activities have since been moved to another facility.

On February 10, 2007, the Huntsville Havoc beat the Knoxville Ice Bears 7-6, in front of the largest crowd for a sporting event in the VBC's history, with 7,083 fans.

It was the site of the first-ever Total Nonstop Action Wrestling card, which featured in-ring cameos by Toby Keith and Sterling Marlin.

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) held its February 5, 2020 episode of AEW Dynamite at the arena.

Entertainment and culture

The arena has hosted numerous rock, pop, and country music concerts. The VBC Concert Hall has been the home venue for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra since the facility opened in 1975. The concert hall also hosts the productions of the Broadway Theater League. The playhouse hosts the productions of Theatre Huntsville, the Fantasy Playhouse Children's Theater, and the Jim Parker Songwriters Series, as well as numerous community events. The yearly Panoply of the Arts outdoor festival takes place in Big Spring Park adjacent to the VBC.

The VBC provided space for the Huntsville Museum of Art from its opening until 1998, when the museum moved to a nearby facility. The former museum is now used as office space for VBC staff.

Expansion

On October 23, 2008, it was announced that the VBC Arena would undergo a massive $15M renovation and would be renamed the Propst Arena, after the family that donated $5M to the city for the expansion. On Friday, February 5, 2010 a groundbreaking ceremony was held marking further renovations to what is now known as the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall.

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