The Salem Civic Center, the hub of the James E. Taliaferro Sports and Entertainment Complex, became a part of Salem’s landscape October 1967. For more than 40 years the 7,000 seat facility has welcomed a who’s who of entertainment’s brightest stars to its stage including the likes of Bill Cosby, Kenny Chesney, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard and Larry The Cable Guy.
The Civic Center currently is the home of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball Final Four, but its round ball roots go all the way back to the old American Basketball Association when Dr. J, Julius Erving, played in the arena as a member of the Virginia Squires.
This arena is also a true “civic” center with the city’s Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs inhabiting one of the building’s numerous meeting rooms on a weekly basis.
The venue’s Community Room hosts everything from awards banquets to receptions with Salem Catering, an in-house food provider, offering up complete catering services for your every need. Salem Catering can handle everything from a business breakfast meeting to a formal banquet for 1500 of your closest friends. Call today and get the details of how Salem Catering can make your next event stress free from start to finish. The Taliaferro Complex is one of the more versatile Entertainment and Sports venues in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Located on 65 acres of land, the complex is home to not only the Salem Civic Center, but also Salem Football Stadium and Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium. Salem Football Stadium is a 7,157 seat municipal stadium that opened for business in August of 1985 after a rapid construction process. The stadium was actually completed just eight months after its approval was granted and a mere five months after grading on the property began. The city used a bond to pay for the $2.2 million facility that was constructed primarily for the city’s successful high school football program that has won six Virginia High School League State Championships since 1996.
Salem Stadium has been the home of the NCAA Division III Football Championship game since 1993. Since the Stagg Bowl debuted in southwest Virginia, the stadium has undergone a number of improvements to better accommodate both players and fans, including new lights, an expanded press box and the installation of synthetic Field Turf prior to the 2007 game.
The field has hosted a number of overflow sports crowds, but the biggest turnout occurred on October 27, 2008 when republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin attracted a crowd of more than 16,000 to a political rally.
Right next door to the football facility you’ll find Lewis-Gale Medical Center Field at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium. This state of the art minor league baseball facility was constructed in 1995 and seats 6,300 fans. It is currently the home of the Boston Red Sox Class A Carolina League farm team, the Salem Red Sox.
One of the Complex’s most important features is its parking. There are more than 4000 free parking spots at the Taliaferro Complex, and this not only gives patrons easy access to shows, but it also provides tremendous flexibility for outside events like the annual Roanoke Valley Horse show, the longest running professional sporting event in the area.
SALEM CIVIC CENTER HISTORY
Salem Town Council first recognized the need for a building of its type in 1955, and seven years later citizens were encouraging city leaders to pursue the construction of an arena-type structure in Salem. In 1963 council bought the current tract of land where the Civic center sits for about $290,000 from the Lutheran Children’s Home. At about this same time Roanoke City officials were debating constructing a stadium. Salem officials invited the City of Roanoke to join them in erecting a community building that could be shared and operated jointly. However, Roanoke City rejected the offer for various reasons.
Salem went ahead with plans to construct a smaller center, but shortly thereafter Roanoke County became interested in providing Salem financial support. This made it possible to enlarge the civic center to the full-size arena it is today. The $2.5 million civic center operated for a number of years as the Salem-Roanoke Valley Civic Center before the City assumed sole proprietorship in 1983.
DIRECTOR OF CIVIC FACILITIES
One of the complex’s greatest assets is its director, Carey Harveycutter. The Salem native has spent more than 40 years of his life at the Civic Center. He began as an office runner back in 1968 doing everything from sweeping the floors to serving as the statistician for professional minor league hockey games. He soon worked his way up to assistant promotions director and eventually to assistant Civic Center manager. For the past 25 years, he has been the City of Salem’s Director of Civic Facilities.
Harveycutter and his chief assistant John Saunders have been working together at the Salem Civic Center for 25 plus years offering clients and patrons a wealth of knowledge and experience during their visits to the complex’s various facilities.
Harveycutter also serves as Game Manager for the various NCAA Tournaments the city hosts. Since 1993, he has managed more than 50 NCAA Division II and Division III Championships.