In 2006, the City started a $62 million dollar restoration of the the state’s largest sports and entertainment venue. The deterioration of the building, and its continuing financial woes, have been a dilemma for advocates of downtown development for several years. The Rhode Island Convention Center Authority was allowed to merge with the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, and the merger enabled the center to attract larger shows and conventions and streamline operations of The Dunk and the Convention Center immediately next door (and connected to the previously state-owned Westin).
The Center got 20 new luxury suites (or “boxes”), wider concourses, cushioned seats with cup holders, new sound system and video scoreboard, and upgraded team facilities, not to mention room for about 1000 more seats during sports and entertainment events. In addition, the brutalist themes of the architectural structure have been softened more of a concourse built on the Fountain Street side, clad in light tan/yellow brick.
The Civic Center has hosted many notable events in its thirty-plus year history. In 1973, the first full year it opened, the PC Friars of Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes made it to the NCAA Final Four in basketball. The Boston Celtics once played some home games there, and Marvin Hagler and Vinny Pazienza fought for world championships in the building. The Civic Center was a stop for the world’s greatest entertainers. Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, Sting and Springsteen have played the building. During his time, Frank Sinatra made several stops in Providence. Whenever he appeared, state police detectives would scan the crowd for organized crime figures who had gotten choice seats near the stage. In 2001, the naming rights to the arena were sold to Dunkin’ Donuts, and the Center started to become known as “The Dunk”.
From RIHPHC’s 1981 Downtown Survey: Ellerbee Associates, architect. 3-story, polygonal-plan, reinforced concrete and steel frame strructure with a flat roof; glass and steel entrance pavillion on facade. Part of the Weybosset Hill Redevelopment Project spawned by the city’s 1959 Master Plan, the Civic Center providex the largest indoor space in the state for concerts, exhibitions and athletic events. [...] Its suprahuman monumentality is a radical departure from the scale of most buildings Downtown, but this contrast is minimized by its relative isolation near the comparably scaled interstate highway, away from the densely built part of the central business district.
Gil May 11 2012 I remember going there to see the Cars play in 1986 and had great seats.
Donna Sep 1 2009 Went there when it was the Providence Civic Center to see the Moody Blues. It was about 1975.
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