The band, which began initially in 1973, is the self-proclaimed "signature rock group of America's working people."
Lynyrd Skynyrd lost its footing when lead singer Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines and vocalist Cassie Gaines died in a 1977 airplane crash. Guitarist Allen Collins, who survived the crash, later died after being paralyzed in an automobile accident. New members dealt with the death of bassist Leon Wilkeson (the "Mad Hatter") who died of natural causes in July 2001, during the making of the album "Vicious Cycle." Through adversity, the band forged on. They perform approximately 300 shows annually.
"It's the grand opening. What better way to open than with the group that people want to see?" said Shannon Deskins, special project coordinator with SMG Management Company. "Of any acts that we were stopped on the street about, the one that stands above all is, 'You gotta get Lynyrd Skynyrd.' Basically, above all and beyond, it's the one act that people were wanting us to get."
Deskins said the $29 million facility, which has been under construction for two years, will bring all types of entertainment to Eastern Kentucky.
"We'll have everything from rock-and-roll to country to gospel," she said. "And we won't be limited to just music. We can do monster truck shows, rodeo shows, ice shows, the Ice Capades. We even have a basketball floor."
Former Judge-Executive Donna Damron began planning the construction of the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in 1994.
Upon completion, the center is expected to contribute more than $10 million to the local economy, with most proceeds coming from out-of-state tourists.
The 126,000 square foot facility has an arena floor of about 24,000 square feet and can seat 7,000 people. It also has an additional 5,000 square feet of ballroom space that overlooks the arena floor.
Tickets for the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, priced at $35 and $45, went on sale Saturday at the center and through Ticketmaster.
More information can be obtained by contacting the center at (606) 433-0200.