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RFP for Management and Operation of City of Knoxville Public Assembly and Convention Facilities

The City of Knoxville is inviting proposals from responsible firms or teams to provide management and operation for one, two, or three of the City-owned facilities; with the City reserving the right to make multiple awards. The City anticipates that the successful proposer or proposers will offer a full range of services, from management and operational oversight to marketing and booking of events. The term of the agreement(s) will be for five years, with five optional one-year renewals. The start date for the contract or contracts resulting from this procurement action will be July 1, 2016.


At present, SMG provides full service management services for the Knoxville Convention Center (KCC) and the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center, while City personnel provide management for the City’s two public assembly facilities, the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum (KCAC) and Chilhowee Park (CP). The City and SMG recently entered into an agreement to assume management of KCAC and CP through June 30, 2016.

It is the City’s intent to have a new contract or contracts in place by July 1, 2016, for management of these three facilities. Proposers can offer management services for one, two, or three of the facilities, and the City will determine which combination accrues the greatest benefit to the taxpayer. For this reason, the City reserves the right to make multiple awards.

As the official Destination Marketing Organization for Knox County and the City, Visit Knoxville (VK) has been instrumental in brand development; has fostered community and regional partnerships; and has increased the City’s presence on the web and in print media. VK’s contract runs until June 30, 2017.

The Facilities:

Knoxville Convention Center

Opened in June 2002, the Knoxville Convention Center (KCC) is located next to the iconic Sunsphere with the backdrop of World’s Fair Park. The centre serves as a site for many public shows, conventions, seminars, banquets, exhibitions, weddings, concerts and sports competitions. With a current annual operating budget of approximately USD$4.5m (excluding debt service).

KCC is the first convention centre in Tennessee to be certified LEED Silver for Existing Buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Certified through the Tennessee Green Hospitality Certification program. One facet of the energy program is the rooftop solar photovoltaic system, which consists of 120 kilowatts and more than 450 panels.

In addition to 500,000sqft of space at KCC, there is another 66,000sqft of exhibition space located at the old Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center (KCEC) across Clinch Avenue and behind the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park that is managed by KCC staff. This space can be separated into three areas with collapsible air walls and includes a show office, restrooms, and storage areas. Due to facility limitations, KCEC is not regularly booked; the facility primarily is used for storage and occasionally by university athletic teams in need of indoor space for off-season training.


Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum

Since its opening in 1961, the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum (KCAC) has served a very important role in the Knoxville community, hosting a variety of entertainment, sports, arts, cultural, and civic events. Conveniently located near the junction of Interstates 75 and 40,

The KCAC complex comprises over a million square feet of land on 26.5 acres and consists of three garages totaling 2,500 parking spaces; a 7,200-seat coliseum (4,414 fixed seats); a 2,400 fixed-seat auditorium; a 4,800sqft ballroom; 10,000sqft of exhibition space; and an outdoor plaza with a capacity of 10,000 people.

The complex hosts the Knoxville Ice Bears; major touring shows, including circuses and ice shows; symphony and pops concerts; ballets; and cultural activities. The current operating budget for the facility is USD$2.96m. Ticketing for most events is managed by Tickets Unlimited.

In addition to event parking, the garages are also utilised for UT Football, providing one of the best locations for game day & RV parking. The garages are often used as a staging area for a number of parades, parking for downtown festivals, and other events.

In order to optimise usage of the facility, the City commissioned Conventions, Sports, and Leisure International (CSL) to conduct a marketing and feasibility study on the KCAC complex. More information, as well as CSL’s full report, may be accessed on the City’s website:



Home of the Knoxville Symphony Pops series, the Auditorium includes:

  • 2500 seating capacity (2,400 fixed seats with 100 removable seats)
  • 57′ wide x 54′ deep stage
  • 27′ high x 57′ wide proscenium
  • 60′ wide x 14′ deep, manual orchestra pit
  • Underground loading dock 6′ deep x 52′ wide x 42″ high (two 53′ trucks at once)
  • Eight dressing rooms
  • Two quick change dressing rooms
  • Two large dressing rooms
  • Wardrobe room
  • 27 person female chorus room
  • 20 person male chorus room
  • Six Production telephone lines available
  • High-speed internet (wire & wireless capable)
  • Lighting and sound specs can be found online at



Home of the 2015 SPHL Southern Professional Hockey League Champion Ice Bears, the Knoxville Civic Coliseum is a completely climate-controlled arena with:

  • Central concourse with ticketing, checkrooms, and refreshment stands
  • Restrooms, including ADA facilities
  • 4,414 fixed seats and a total capacity with floor seating of 7,200
  • High-volume sound amplification system
  • Electrostatic filter system for removal of smoke and pollen
  • Eight private dressing rooms
  • 25-foot wide, 14.5-foot high exterior service door
  • Combined area of more than 34,000 sq. ft. that can accommodate up to 184 10′ x 10′ trade show exhibit booths on the same level, with unlimited load per square foot
  • 60′ x 40′ portable stage
  • Removable sloping floor risers
  • Four super-trouper spotlights
  • Various sizes of band-risers
  • Forklift and other equipment available for special requirements
  • One-way, drive-thru ramp loading area
  • Two truck dock with 24′ wide x 14′ high dock door
  • Cement arena floor with brine pipes below for ice floor


Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center

Chilhowee Park & Exposition Center is an 81-acre, multi-use venue owned by the City of Knoxville and currently has an operating budget of USD$1.16m. In 1910, the first Appalachian Exposition was held at Chilhowee Park. A re-furbished, granite bandstand is the only remaining structure built for the 1910 Exposition; the bandstand is a popular backdrop for weddings.

The park and exposition centre is located less than a mile away from interstate access and minutes from downtown Knoxville. The facility includes a three acre lake; a 4,500-seat open air amphitheater; a 57,100sqft exhibition hall; barns and arenas; and playground and picnic shelters. The on-site management team at Chilhowee Park offers a full range of services and equipment: tables, chairs, pipe and drape, crowd control barriers, bleachers, traffic cones, event personnel, security personnel, etc. Beverage and food service in the Jacob Building is provided by Ovations Food Services.


RFP Time Line


Availability of RFP ………………………………………………. February 1, 2016


Mandatory Pre-Proposal Conference ……………………. February 11, 2016


Deadline for questions to be submitted in writing to the

Assistant Purchasing Agent ……………………………… February 22, 2016


Proposals Due Date ……………………………………………….. March 1, 2016


This timetable is for the information of submitting entities. These dates are subject to change. However, in no event shall the deadline for submission of the proposals be changed except by written modification from the City of Knoxville Purchasing Division.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: A mandatory Pre-Proposal Conference and Site Visit will be held on February 11, 2016, starting at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum (KCAC); 500 Howard Baker, Jr. Avenue; Knoxville, at 1:00 p.m. ; garage parking is available directly across from the Auditorium in Garages A and B. Report to the Auditorium lobby. After touring the KCAC complex, the site visit will proceed to Chilhowee Park and later to the Knoxville Convention Center. The City will provide transportation from the KCAC for the facility tours and return to KCAC garage by 5:30 p.m. Note that only proposals submitted by proposers represented at the Pre-Proposal Conference will be considered for award.


Proposals to be Received by 11:00:00 a.m., Eastern Time

March 1, 2016


Submit Proposals to:

City of Knoxville

Office of Purchasing Agent

City/County Building

Room 667-674

400 Main Street

Knoxville, Tennessee 37902


For full details and the full RFP document, please go to: and choose the ‘Management and Operation of City of Knoxville Public Assembly and Convention Facilities’ PDF document.