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Mountains Center mezzanine seating in need of repairs
Stadium-style seats are now 32 years old
The Georgia Mountains Center arena’s 32-year-old mezzanine seating shows its age in July 2011.

The Georgia Mountains Center mezzanine seating has seen a lot in the past 32 years.

It has seen Def Leppard play and gospel choirs praise. It has seen professional wrestler Sting swing from the rafters and bulls fling riders into the air.

It has also seen better days, Director Carol Moore said.

Today at 5:30 p.m., Georgia Mountains Center officials will ask the city of Gainesville to pay $22,000 in repairs to the worn stadium-style seating.

The mezzanine seats about 800 people and was installed when the center opened in 1980.

“The life expectancy (for the mezzanine) is about 30 years, and we’re on our 32nd year,” Moore said.

The mezzanine has telescopic seating, meaning the rows of seats have to be pulled out and pushed back into the wall for performances. Like a drawer sliding into a desk, each row of seats is designed to slide into place with the help of wheels on tracks.

Since some of those wheels and tracks are missing, the mezzanine doesn’t exactly slide anymore, Moore said. “It doesn’t roll smoothly. You just have to drag it out,” she said.

From start to finish, moving the mezzanine in and out of the wall takes more than three hours, said Brian Massey, set-up supervisor at the Georgia Mountains Center. With repairs, Massey and his crew should be able to arrange the mezzanine in less than an hour.

Once the city approves the project, Moore will contact Georgia Institutional Functionings to order the parts and arrange the repairs.

Ordering the parts should take about four weeks, and the repairs will take about a week, Moore said.

Representatives from Georgia Institutional Furnishings have already visited the center to investigate the damage and estimate the cost of repairs, Massey said.

Besides the damaged tracks, some of the mezzanine seats hang loose from visitors repeatedly stepping on them. Others have broken or missing arms.

“That happens when people step on them,” Massey said. “They just break right off.”

Georgia Institutional also gave Massey a nugget of good news: The decades-old infrastructure of the mezzanine is built three times stronger than newer models.

With the repairs in place, the mezzanine will be easier to use and safer for visitors, Moore said.

“Keeping the equipment of our facilities up to code is important for the safety of our visitors first and foremost,” she said.

The Georgia Mountains Center has a five- to 10-year plan to consider replacing the mezzanine, at a cost of about $400,000.

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