After more than four decades running Charleston’s civic arena, John Robertson will retire next month as the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center’s general manager.
Robertson announced his retirement in a news release late Tuesday afternoon. He joined the arena, then known as the Civic Center, as assistant director in 1978, according to the release, and was soon promoted to general manager.
When Robertson came to the arena, 19 years after the Civic Center opened in 1959, ground had just been broken on the arena’s 13,000-seat coliseum (to replace one with about half as much seating).
Robertson also helped oversee the addition of the arena’s two parking garages in the early 1980s, renovations of the Little Theater and the Grand Hall, and the removal of the city’s ice rink from the area.
Most recently, he oversaw a massive renovation of the entire arena, which was rebranded the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. City Council members approved an $82 million contract in the spring of 2015, but the final price tag was about $110 million when the arena reopened late last year.
Earlier this year, Robertson said the arena could bring in $3.5 million during this fiscal year, nearly $1 million up from the previous year. Even if that happens, though, the arena would still likely require a subsidy from the city, as it has done for decades, he said.
Robertson’s retirement will take effect Oct. 23. The arena’s board of directors will conduct a national search for his replacement, according to the release.