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Pine Bluff Convention Center: A Legendary History

The Pine Bluff Convention Center has hosted concerts from artists across all genres since its opening in 1976. It has also been the venue for a dizzying array of other significant events. So much history and so many legends have come gushing through its doors that its importance cannot be denied.

Image Credit:

& Black Post Credit@Michael Ochs Archives

When the Pine Bluff Convention Center opened its doors on June 27, 1976, it was the first of its kind. The city built the best convention facility in the entire state at the time. Positioned geographically as a prime fly-over point between Memphis and Dallas, Pine Bluff became an attractive place for acts booked in these larger markets.

And when the acts showed up, the city lit up with excitement. Dionne Warwick was the first to perform there followed by a host of artists from all genres. Some of these acts included the likes of Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Willie Nelson, Alabama, Cheap Trick, KISS, the Doobie Brothers, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, Waylon Jennings, Barbara Mandrell, Marvin Gaye, Muddy Waters, Natalie Cole, Prince, AC/DC, Bob Hope, Teddy Pendergrass, the Emotions, REO Speedwagon, Rose Royce, Metallica, Maze & Frankie Beverly, Marvin Gaye, Parliament- the Funkadelic tour, The Commodores, The Manhattan’s, Brantley Gilbert, SWV, and many others also performed at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Not only was there music, but there were circus acts, car shows, conventions, professional meetings, balls, graduations and every other gathering one could imagine. Of course, no one from that era could forget the national platform that the ESPN-televised King Cotton Basketball Tournament gave to the venue or the legendary Arkansas Razorback win against the Michal Jordan-led North Carolina Tar Heels.

In the 1990s, the Convention Center successfully won a bid to host the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. It is now a permanent exhibit highlighting inductees who have made significant contributions in music, journalism, cinema, television, writing, and theater. With memorabilia of all kinds, including costumes, posters, autographs, rare records, instruments, and other items, visitors can learn volumes about luminaries from all over the state.

Even as the Convention Center currently works to create an even brighter future, the memories of old are still fresh in the minds of so many. Not only are they cherished by people from the city, but those from the region and the state. From the arena to the auditorium to the banquet halls, if one listens closely, one can still hear the thunderous echoes of applause and excitement. Greatness is still in the air of the Pine Bluff Convention Center.


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