Big Sandy Superstore Arena
Built in 1977 as the Huntington Civic Center, the Big Sandy Superstore Arena is a multipurpose facility that seats up to 9,000. The venue hosts a variety of concerts, athletic tournaments, touring exhibits, graduation ceremonies, political rallies, and shows. Next to the arena, the facility offers a 15,000-square-foot conference center that serves as a venue for professional gatherings and private celebrations. The current name of the arena reflects the financial support of sponsor Big Sandy Superstore, a home furnishings retail business that opened its first store near the Big Sandy River in Ashland, Kentucky. The Huntington Civic Center was the largest in the state of West Virginia at the time of its opening in 1977. The facility is located on a five-acre piece of property along the Ohio River and a block from Huntington's downtown retail and restaurant center, Pullman Square, and is managed by SMG.
Backstory and Context
The Huntington Civic Center was built with intentions of housing Marshall University athletic events. However the arena was not designed to accommodate sporting events and was placed in a location that Marshall did not approve of. Marshall instead continued to hold sporting events at the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse until the Cam Henderson Center was created in 1981. Due to the opening of the Charleston Civic Center, the delayed development of Pullman Square, and the creation of the Cam Henderson Center, the Huntington Civic Center became a financial burden for the city of Huntington, and was sold to a private management company. The name of the arena was changed to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena after the Big Sandy Superstores chain purchased the naming rights.
Over the past four decades, Big Sandy Superstore Arena has hosted numerous historic events, as well as concerts and performers by some of the leading musicians, comedians, and touring shows in American history. The facility opened on Sept. 14, 1977. Elvis Presley was scheduled to appear at the new arena on September 20-22, 1977, but his death occurred a month prior to his scheduled performance. Many
local residents still have their tickets.
The band Heart gave the first performance at the city's new arena in September 1977. Other big acts who have performed there include the Beach Boys, Merle Haggard, Glen Miller, Alabama, George Jones, Bon Jovi, John Denver, Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, KISS, Willie Nelson, Reba, Barry Manilow, David Copperfield, the Globetrotters, Dr. Deepak Chopra and many others. Political candidates who have held rallies there include George Bush and Bernie Sanders. The arena was also the home to various minor league hockey and indoor football teams at different times, such as the Huntington Blizzard of the ECHL; the Huntington Heroes of the AIFA; the Huntington Hammer of the UIFL; and the River Cities LocoMotives, of the NIFL..
The band Florida Georgia Line made arena history in 2013, when tickets to their show sold out in thirteen seconds. As of June 2016, the show with the highest grossing ticket sales was the May 2016 concert featuring the bands Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon and Tesla.