River Center gets new name, adds new food outlets, other major improvements

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On a mobile device? Click here to see a slideshow of the River Center

The Baton Rouge River Center has a new name. It will now be known as the Raising Cane's River Center.

The East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved the contract Wednesday and Mayor Kip Holden signed it Thursday. Raising Cane's will pay nearly $4 million over the next 10 years for the sponsorship.

"Overjoyed today announcing our partnership with the River Center and making it the Raising Cane's River Center," said Todd Graves, CEO of Raising Cane's. "I'm a Baton Rouge boy. I grew up here. My first concert was here. Gwen's first concert was here. So, its a joy. This is a great way for us to show our partnership with the city."

"We're very proud to be the Raising Cane's River Center and I'm really looking forward to having a facility here that all of the residents in the Capital region can be proud to come to," added Michael Day, general manager of the Raising Cane's River Center.

The Baton Rouge River Center also unveiled a new digital face this week and made some major improvements to the complex that has housed some of the area's biggest concerts, conventions, and other events after being built in 1977.

The launch of a newly designed website was announced early Wednesday morning. Officials said it will not only enhance the overall user experience, but will also showcase a modern look and feel while reflecting the River Center's updated brand. They added the new URL will be announced Thursday immediately after the announcement of the new name for the River Center. For now, users can still visit www.brrivercenter.com and they will be redirected to the new site.

"Our mission statement is to make every event at the River Center, the year's very best," explained General Manager Michael Day. "Thanks to Mayor Kip Holden and the Baton Rouge City Council, we are starting a series of improvements and modernizations that will make the experiences here at the River Center better for our valued patrons and our performers."

The addition of new food specialty outlets to the arena was announced Tuesday. The new food and beverage department will include The Smokehouse Cafe and Ma Rouge's Pizza & Panini.

"We have a great catering division called SAVOR…Baton Rouge," Day said. "I wanted to use our culinary talent to bring our patrons more than the predictable concession fare, and we are doing that with The Smokehouse Café and Ma Rouge's."

The food outlets are located on the lower concourse of the arena on the North side. Tables for patrons are also new additions.

"We want our guests to enjoy some great food and drinks along with their show," said Peter Palisi, the director of Food and Beverage. "The Smokehouse Caféutilizes items from our Southern Pride Smoker, that can smoke more than 300 pounds of ribs or thirty-six 15-pound prime rib roasts at a time. We prepare all our specialty items daily. They are not pre-purchased or made days ahead of time, only to sit in a cooler for days before the event, they are fresh."

Beverages have also gotten an upgrade with the addition of more mobile beer on-tap vending stands and bar locations.

"Louisianans love to have a good time, and food and drinks are a big part of that," Day said. "Our staff are excited about all the upgrades we are making to the facility."

The River Center has also added 87 high definition digital monitors, ranging from 21.5 inches to 75 inches, that have been installed throughout the River Center's patron and performer areas. Other improvements include a more modern and easier to read signage system throughout the facility for way-finding, concession menus, and coming events.

Three main entrances to the main complex, as well as the theater's main lobby, will now have video walls to highlight and advertise upcoming concerts and events.

Each Arena and Exhibition Hall concession stand now will have multiple digital monitors showcasing the menu of food and drink options, as well as sponsor partners at the River Center.

"We are also adding an interactive kiosk to help our patrons navigate, and for them to sign up for our mailing list, which will allow them to be the first to find out about new concerts," explained Rhonda Ruffino, the director of Sales, Marketing, and Event Services.

The River Center has several big shows in the works its looking forward to announcing, including hosting the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships, which will also include the live broadcast of the NCAA Championships.

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