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ETSU completes purchase of Millennium Centre, changes spelling

Nathan Baker • Oct 8, 2018 at 10:18 PM

In the midst of the bustle of the fall semester and a $55 million arts center construction project, East Tennessee State University took time to find its center. The Millennium Center, that is.

The university announced Monday the closing of its purchase of the meeting and convention venue previously owned by the city’s Public Building Authority on Oct. 1.

Johnson City commissioners and Building Authority board members approved the sale in August for $5,824,584, enough leaders said, to pay off the outstanding debt on the Millennium Centre — ETSU rearranged the last two letters to match other campus buildings — and pay for legal fees related to the sale.

Before the sale, the university leased space in the center for its Niswonger Digital Media Center, and is building the new Martin Center for the Arts next door.

“The purchase of the Millennium Center couldn’t be more timely,” said Jeremy Ross, ETSU chief operating officer in an emailed press release. “The facility will serve the university and the community during the Culp Center renovations. Additionally, it is exciting to acquire a space that will facilitate new programs and enrollment growth.”

With the sale comes the pedestrian bridge spanning West State of Franklin Road and the parking garage adjacent to the Millennium Center.

According to the university, meeting and events space will still be available to the public by reservation. To reserve space, visit www.etsu.edu/millennium.

The convention center opened in 1999, three years after Kingsport opened its MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center.

The Public Building Authority oversaw its operation, but did not earn enough through meetings and events bookings to fully fund the venture. To help pay the costs of running the facility, Johnson City transferred land to the authority along West State of Franklin Road across from ETSU for the authority to sell to developers.

Earlier this year, the Building Authority sold its last plot of land from the transfer to restaurant Cootie Brown’s.

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