Local officials say they have a game plan in place to handle a capacity crowd Thursday when A Gaither Homecoming Lovin’ Life Tour rolls into The Arena in Corbin.
“It is sold out,” confirmed Cliff Clinger, General Manager of The Arena at the David L. Williams Southeast Kentucky Agriculture and Exposition Center. “I think the Gaithers is a good choice for Corbin. They are very appropriate for this market and we are pleased with the interest people have in this show.”
The Gaithers will be the second sold out show in three tries for The Arena, which officially opened this month. Saturday’s performance of Monster Truck Nationals was a sell-out crowd as well. Clinger said many more people will be on hand to see The Gaithers, though, since seating on the floor will be provided, bringing total capacity at the facility over 7,000.
“Every show is just a little bit different. This is going to be the most people we can have up here so we don’t want people thinking they can arrive late and just zoom up the hill and screech into a parking space and walk in the building. It’s going to take some time,” Clinger said. “This will be our biggest show. We’ve got to be patient.”
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said officials have been working on a “game plan” to ensure things go as smoothly as possible for people going to and leaving the show. Parking problems on opening night March 12 were compounded by a snowstorm, but local leaders say it has been a learning experience.
“We will have three lanes going up the hill and three lanes coming down with one lane open at all times for a shuttle,” McBurney said. “We’ve marked some areas more clearly for parking and we will have more people on hand to direct traffic.”
Overflow parking will be available at the former Marine Myers auto dealership lot on Cumberland Falls Hwy. and at Grace on the Hill United Methodist Church. Shuttles will be running to and from those parking areas constantly.
McBurney added that for this show, police officers will be directing traffic near I-75 Exit 25 to prevent backups of vehicles wanting to get on the business roadway.
“It’s just trial and error,” McBurney said. “I think we are learning as we go and we’ve got a better plan now. A lot of people are going to come to this arena and we want to make it as good an experience as we can for them.”
Clinger said doors for the Gaithers show will open early at 5:30 p.m. and he encourages anyone planning to attend to get an early start. He encourages concert attendees to carpool if possible.
The show will start at 7:00 p.m. and officials say it will be long, not ending until around 11:00 p.m.
Clinger said the promoter broke with tradition by booking a show with the arena because they usually like to allow a longer time for ticket sales.
“That wasn’t possible with us so they took a chance and I think they are pleased,” Clinger said. “We are writing history with this project since we have no history to look at. We are in test mode right now and we want to prove this is a viable stop and a viable market for shows to come to.”
McBurney said ticket sales for other upcoming shows – Alan Jackson, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, comedian Larry the Cable Guy, etc. – have been strong as well.
“It doesn’t surprise me. We have a great location,” McBurney said. “A lot of people that won’t go to other expo centers will come to ours. I think this facility is going to have a huge impact on this town for a long time to come.”