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Civic Center among largest in Triangle

Click to enlarge Civic Center among largest in Triangle

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The Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, in Sanford, is the major convention and event center in Lee County. ... (more)

09.05.2012College & CommunityCollege GeneralFacilities/Buildings

SANFORD - Triangle Business Journal has named the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center as among the five largest meeting facilities in the Triangle area.

"That recognition is important because it lets event planners and organizations know that they do not need to go to Raleigh to find a facility big enough for their purposes," said David Foster, Civic Center director.

The June issue of Triangle Business Journal and its online edition provided pictures of the five largest. The Civic Center's 36,000 square feet of meeting space puts it in the company of Goels Plaza, in Morrisville, with 38,309 square feet; and three facilities in Raleigh: the N.C. State Fairgrounds, 38,782 square feet; Brier Creek Country Club, 40,000 square feet; and the Raleigh Convention Center, 76,751 square feet.

Foster said the Civic Center, which is owned and operated by Central Carolina Community College, is already heavily utilized by both local events and those that attract visitors from out of town, but, he added, "We are not resting on our laurels."

He said a committee of representatives from the college, Lee County, City of Sanford, and Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce has developed a "20/20 vision" for the facility that provides for both physical growth and expansion of services. As it becomes a reality, it will make it even more competitive and a stronger economic engine for Sanford and Lee County than it is now.

Before the Civic Center opened in 1991, Lee County had no large, multi-purpose meeting and event facility. Even CCCC graduations had to be held outdoors. In 1988, the college's board of trustees authorized then - CCCC President Marvin Joyner and a committee of area residents and leaders to move forward with plans for a facility that would serve both the college and community.

Then-N.C. Rep. Dennis A. Wicker was able to obtain design and construction grants totaling about $1.3 million through the state legislature. Lee County provided $2 million and additional funds were raised through naming rights to areas of the facility.

Ground was broken in 1989 and the facility opened for use in 1991. The building was named for Wicker in gratitude for his work in obtaining the state funds to help build it. Income from paying events and the city and county hotel tax are used to run it.

"The Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center has been a godsend to the community," said Bobby Powell, who served on the college's board of trustees in 1992-93 and since 1996. "It gave the college and community a place to bring groups and has provided an economic boost to the community. It's been great for the college, county government, city government, schools, the community at large - everybody has benefited."

Foster said that Lee County is an ideal central location to attract events from around the Triangle and the state.

"With our location, facility and plans for the future, we plan to continue to grow, serve and be recognized as among the best," Foster said.

To see photos of the five largest facilities in the Triangle, visit For more information about the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, call (919) 776-0345 or go online to