HOW THE BECKLEY RALEIGH COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER IS DOING
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
BY WARREN ELLISON.
For many, it’s the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. For others, it’s still the Armory. But for nearly everyone in Beckley, the dome-shaped building on Eisenhower Drive has been the home of athletics, concerts, and special events for nearly 60 years.
But for nearly a year, the building has been silent, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Major events have been canceled, most of the staff has been furloughed, and only a small crew is there to perform maintenance and upkeep on the building. Angela Akers, General Manager of the Convention Center, says it’s been slow and challenging. Last year, they lost about 80% of revenue and are projecting a 50% loss for this year.
In the past couple of months, the Convention Center has taken small steps towards reopening, with WVU Tech Basketball allowing a small number of fans in. Tech allows 420 seats general admission; with the Convention Center seating 2800, they’re easily able to space them out. Woodrow Wilson High School will allow parents only for its home games starting next month. All attendees must wear masks; they can remove them only if they’re seated, socially distanced, and eating.
Akers is hopeful that, with more people being vaccinated and Covid-19 numbers continuing to fall in West Virginia, larger events can soon resume. The 2021 Causeacon event was recently canceled, but other events, such as the Toughman Contest and the Women’s Expo, have been rescheduled for later in the year.
Meanwhile, Akers says grant money is helping the Convention Center stay afloat. Their first PPP loan has been forgiven and they’re currently applying for a second. They also received some CARES Act funding from the Governor’s Office. The Convention Center is a 501 C3 nonprofit that accepts tax-deductible donations from the public. For more information about the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center and upcoming events, go to www.beckleyconventioncenter.com or www.facebook.com/beckleyconventioncenter.