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Two Buildings Renamed at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (MARCH 18, 2024)—The City of Winston-Salem’s Public Assembly Facilities Commission voted today to update the names of two buildings at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.  The former Fairgrounds Annex (also known as the Annex Ice Rink) is becoming the Fairgrounds Arena in Winston-Salem, and the former Fairgrounds Education Building will be known as the Fairgrounds Event Center.


The name changes came at the request of the Marketing Subcommittee of the Public Assembly Facilities Commission and Winston-Salem Fairgrounds staff, who said the former names of the two buildings no longer reflected their expanded, year-round uses.  Overarching goals associated with the name changes are building a stronger connection to the overall functionality and branding of the buildings with the local community and enhancing the marketability of the buildings on a national level as event rental space.


The Fairgrounds Arena (formerly the Fairgrounds Annex) opened in 1989 to serve as an actual annex to the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum, which also opened in 1989, and was sold by the City of Winston-Salem to Wake Forest University in 2013.  The Fairgrounds Event Center (formerly the Fairgrounds Education Building) opened in 1992 primarily to house the annual Fair’s competitive entry exhibits.  At that time, it was standard practice nationwide for fairgrounds to name facilities solely for their fair-related purposes without considering additional year-round uses for buildings.


“The former names are not representative of the current use of the two buildings. The new Arena and Event Center names much better reflect today’s uses of them as year round facilities,” Robert Mulhearn, public assembly facilities and venue manager for the City of Winston-Salem said.  “In addition, the former names also are used in other areas of our community, potentially causing confusion and diminished branding.  For example, many churches and schools have ‘annex’ buildings, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has an Education Building located nearby on Bethania Station Road.


“The new names of these two key Fairgrounds rental facilities will create a stronger connection to their function and enhance our ability to market naming rights for the buildings at a later time,” Mulhearn added.  “For the foreseeable future, nothing will change associated with the two buildings other than their names.  We will continue to host events such as Thunderbirds ice hockey at the Fairgrounds Arena and will announce our summer indoor concert series this week, which also will take place there.”


The Arena and Event Center combined host approximately 100 events each year with more than 500,000 guests in or around the buildings. With the sale of the LJVM Coliseum, Winston-Salem Fairgrounds staff became more intentional about renting fairgrounds facilities for year-round activity.  The two renamed facilities continue to host events almost all 52 weeks of the year, including hosting multiple events in multiple venues on many weekends.  Events include concerts, trade shows, banquets, meetings, hockey, ice skating, public events, and more.


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