JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Officials with Freedom Hall Civic Center and ETSU’s Martin Center for the Arts say the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions has helped bring bigger attractions to Johnson City.

The city of Johnson City owns and operates Freedom Hall and has taken steps to improve the venue.

“My mandate basically from the city was to get things going here and see if we can put a positive spin on Freedom Hall,” said Freedom Hall General Manger Mark Stone. “It’d been kind of subdued over the COVID years and a little bit before.”

Freedom Hall Civic Center (Photo: WJHL)

Stone said a city-led interior renovation project and allowing alcohol sales have made the venue more attractive to guests.

Bigger names came to perform this season with some sold-out shows.

“We’ve done Jelly Roll, Tyler Childers, and Lee Brice,” said Stone. “Two of them have sold out. The other did really well, it just didn’t sell out.”

Stone said the way they advertise shows has changed with a focus on the facility’s billboard, Facebook page, and website, which saves them money, but agrees this may not be enough.

“[We’re] probably not getting everybody we could get,” said Stone. “Obviously written, TV, and radio helps.”

He added that they do have radio connections that they use.

With the lifting of COVID restrictions, the ETSU Martin Center booked bigger acts with Broadway shows being extremely popular.

“I think people have been itching for Broadway, to have these world-class performers come here and be right here in Johnson City,” said Executive Director Jennifer Clements.

The facility hosted nearly 8,500 guests during last season’s Broadway shows.

“We had sold out show, after sold out show, after sold out show…and so…next season we are going to be adding additional nights so hopefully that will open up more tickets and more availability for folks to come and see the performances here,” Clements said.

Freedom Hall officials are already working on next year’s lineup along with the facility’s 50th-anniversary celebration.

The Martin Center has shows lined up for this summer and will be announcing its next season later this summer.