What a year!
2015 was a historic year for Bossier Parish. The summer flood…Barksdale’s 4-Star designation…economic growth around the parish… there was no shortage of news this year.
Publisher Randy Brown and Managing Editor Amanda Simmons took a journey back through the BPT archives and pulled the stories they feel shaped Bossier Parish in 2015. These stories are listed in no particular order.

Red River Flood

The Red River swallowed swaths of land in Bossier Parish when it reached a historic crest in June. Flood1

Northwest Louisiana saw its highest crest in 70 years at just over 37 feet, not far behind the flood of 1945 which crested at 38.3 feet. The rising waters caused evacuations, many headaches and worries for local officials and residents.

Large amounts of precipitation in the region, specifically the higher volume of water coming in from lakes and reservoirs upstream in Oklahoma and Texas, caused the river to swell. The National Weather Service changed the river crest prediction seven times between May 24 and June 7. Predictions went from a 31.5-foot crest on May 24 to a 34-foot crest on May 29, followed by an expected crest of 35.5-feet on June 4 then an additional foot on June 5. The final crest prediction reached 37-feet on June 7.

The flood caused many homes to flood and road closures, including both lanes of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway and the outside lanes of I-220 (westbound) from Benton Road to the Red River.

The water level remained high for several weeks before slowly receding to about 27 or 28 feet, just below the 30 foot flood stage.

Rand takes command of AFGSC
Gen. Robin Rand took command of Air Force Global Strike Command during a ceremony July 28, becoming the newest leader of the organization responsible for the nation’s force of ICBMs and nuclear-capable bombers.

Gen. Robin Rand
Gen. Robin Rand

Rand is the first 4-Star General to lead the Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base. A command pilot with more than 5,000 hours, including 470 in combat, Rand previously served as commander of Air Education and Training Command. He succeeds Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson who had served as AFGSC’s commander since October 2013.
In his farewell address, Wilson praised the Global Strike Airmen and civilians for their hard work and dedication.
“I’m extremely proud of what you’ve accomplished over the past few years. You are our nation’s deterrent and global strike force. You provide safe, secure and effective deterrence, and should deterrence ever fail, you are America’s ability to swiftly and decisively strike anywhere on the globe,” he added. “Because of you, we are the greatest Air Force on the planet. You are America’s global power, and much like the Chief says about airpower, without global strike, you do lose.”
The Air Force elevated AFGSC to a four-star major command in order to provide its global strike mission with the highest level of leadership oversight similar to the service’s other operational core missions.
“The appointment of a four-star sends a powerful message to our Airmen, allies and any would-be enemy,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “It speaks to our commitment and promise to our Airmen and Nation to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and global strike capability with the right level of leadership emphasis.
“In a complex global environment, having a four-star general responsible for the world’s most powerful weapons is critically important,” James added. “General Rand will continue to give voice to our Airmen and continue to advance progress made in the nuclear enterprise.”

New Bossier development opens

Bossier’s newest shopping development is open for business.

Hobby Lobby was first store in Dement Crossing, located on the corner of George Dement Boulevard and Airline Drive, to open in October, followed by Kroger Marketplace in November. Buffalo Wild Wings and Panda Express have also opened. Signs in the development show that Vision 4 Less, Whataburger, Jimmy John’s, Panera Bread and Chipotle will be coming soon.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

Kroger Marketplace offers customers a food-centric shopping experience with chef-prepared items and pastries, fresh fruit and vegetables, wine, specialty cheeses, premium-cut meats, fresh seafood and organic products. But the list doesn’t stop there. The store has home goods, kitchenware, small appliances, tech accessories, toys, adult and children’s apparel and shoes. It also has a Starbucks, a Kroger Fuel Center and a Kroger Pharmacy.

Not only is it the first marketplace store to open in the state, but it’s the first store Kroger has built and opened in Louisiana in 17 years. Gary Huddleston, Director of Public Affairs for Kroger in North Texas & Louisiana, said the new store is three times the size of their previous location on Benton Road, which closed its doors.

The new traffic signal on Airline Drive at George Dement Boulevard was turned on Oct. 6. The road, named for the late Bossier City Mayor George Dement, runs between Hobby Lobby and Kroger Marketplace before meeting at Plantation Drive.

The city is in the process of completing the Plantation Drive extension behind the new development. While the northern half is complete, Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker said there is still some work to be done on the southern end of the connection, adding that it should be finished in the coming weeks.

Once finished, the Plantation Drive extension will connect Airline Drive to Viking Drive and also have a connection at Douglas Drive.

New schools open in Bossier Parish

There was plenty of excitement at the start of the school year with two brand new schools opening their doors for the first time.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

We are excited about the new school year, especially with the opening of our two newest schools,” D.C. Machen, Jr., Superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools, said. “Kingston Elementary and Bossier Parish School of Technology and Innovative Learning are both products of our community’s continued support and investment in our students. Our administrators and teachers have been actively involved in professional development opportunities throughout the summer, better preparing themselves in enhanced teaching strategies to ensure that we continue to provide exemplary learning environments for our students to achieve academic success. Through this partnership with our students, parents, community and educators, each continuing to provide an unparalleled support and the resources that allow our system to grow, flourish, and achieve success, Bossier Parish Schools will continue to take the lead in our state in developing and producing 21st Century learners and leaders.”

Kingston Elementary utilizes state-of-the-art technology and features within the building to create a unique learning experience for students. Construction of Kingston Elementary began in late November 2014. Designed to help relieve overcrowding at Legacy and Benton Elementary Schools, the new facility will be designed to meet those growth needs by accommodating 1,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

BPSTIL is open to high school juniors and seniors who want to pursue career and technical education courses. After being housed at Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport for nearly two decades, Bossier Parish students won’t have to cross the river to attend classes. Positioned off I-220 and Swan Lake Road, BPSTIL promises to bridge education with the needs of the workforce and serve as a catalyst between the school system and business and industry.

Bossier Schools is in the process of building its first three-story middle school. The new Haughton Middle School is designed to accommodate a rapidly growing student population in the eastern part of Bossier Parish. Built for 1,500 students in sixth through eighth grades, Haughton Middle School will include a large, centrally located commons/dining area with its academic wing and athletic facilities, including a gym with bleacher seating for 1,000 with the capability for additional bleacher and floor seating.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in February 2015, but poor weather conditions since have delayed work.

Parish sewer system in final stages

Bossier Parish is entering the final phases of construction of a $55 million sewer system, complete with a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, and the police jury wants to be sure that any future systems built in conjunction with developments come under parish governance.

Contractors work on a section of sewer line south of I-220 just east of Shed Road.
Contractors work on a section of sewer line south of I-220 just east of Shed Road.

Police Jury members Wednesday voted unanimously to approve an ordinance requiring any community type sewer systems built outside municipal limits in Bossier Parish to be governed and owned by the Consolidated Waterworks Sewerage District. The ordinance covers both commercial and residential systems

Contractors will have to provide plans and specifications that meet DHH approval and pay a three percent inspection fee just like on subdivision streets,” said Butch Ford, Bossier Parish engineer. “Once a certification letter is received they will be required to have a 50-percent, two-year maintenance bond.”

Ford said the police jury will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the system and if a problem arises, the 50-percent bond will be called in.

“The systems will meet the 10-state standard which sets the bar for water and sewer in the United States. Everything goes through DHH and DEQ,” Ford pointed out.

Police jury members also agreed Wednesday to move two parish roads up by on the road overlay program for 2015 after learning that traffic counts had dramatically increased on both.

A 1.4-mile section of Swan Lake Rd from Airline Dr. to the Flat River bridge had been scheduled for 2016 while a .7-mile portion of Linton Rd. from Airline to Old Palmetto was due for resurfacing in 2017. Ford asked jurors to approve both for completion this year.

“We budgeted $2 million for the road program this year and we have used $1.6 million so we have the money to do this,” Ford said. “If we don’t fix these roads now we will spend the money patching them.”

Social media helps identify “Bossier Doe”

Within six days of launching the “Bossier Doe” Facebook page in early February, the Bossier Sheriff’s Office received a tip that would quickly lead to identifying the victim of a cold case murder.

Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

The Bossier Sheriff’s Office confirmed the identity of “Bossier Doe,” a woman found murdered in Bossier Parish more than 30 years ago, as 17-year-old Carol Ann Cole of Kalamazoo, MI.

It’s been a long 34 years, one month and five days of waiting for the Cole family. I’m here to tell you that the wait is over; Carol Ann is coming home,” Sheriff Whittington said during a press conference.

Bossier Doe” was the name given to an unidentified female who was found deceased by hunters in the woods off of Highway 157 near Princeton on Jan. 28, 1981. The Bossier Parish Coroner’s Office found multiple stab wounds on her and determined she had been deceased for about four to six weeks.

Bossier Sheriff’s Office detectives found no purse or identification on her, and a search of missing and unidentified person’s databases turned up nothing. Her identity remained a mystery through the years….until now.

Carol Ann Cole was born November 5, 1963 in Kalamazoo. Jeanie Phelps was just a teenager when her sister went missing in 1981.

“There’s a sense of relief, but also a deep sense of sadness,” Phelps said. “I really can not express the gratitude to everyone who put so much time into giving “Bossier Doe” an identity. So many have loved her without even knowing who she was and if you did know her, you would have loved her even more.”

On Feb. 6, detectives created a Facebook profile page for “Bossier Doe” in hopes of sharing her story around the nation. This was similarly used in another case involving Tammy Jo Alexander, a missing Florida teen from 1979 who was identified some 35 years as a homicide victim in New York with the help of social media.

Just six days after the Facebook page went live, investigators received a tip from a Bossier Parish 911 communications officer who said she saw a posting on Craigslist of a missing person girl from Michigan that looked similar to the composite drawing of the profile picture on the “Bossier Doe” page. The missing person on the Craigslist posting was Carol Ann Cole.

Bossier investigators contacted the family of Carol Ann Cole and coordinated with the Kalamazoo Township Police Department to set up a collection of DNA samples from the parents of Carol Ann.

Those DNA samples were then sent to the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory in Shreveport in late February to be processed to see if the DNA sample from the Cole family matched the DNA profile of “Bossier Doe.”

The DNA results confirmed Carol Ann Cole to be “Bossier Doe.” Phelps said she hopes the person or persons responsible for taking her sister’s life are held responsible and that justice is served for Carol Ann.

Investigators believe Carol Ann was in the Shreveport area in late 1980, especially in the 1200 block of Fairfield Ave. (named Howell Street back in 1980) near downtown Shreveport not far from Fertitta’s Delicatessen, as well as the 6800 block of Fairfield Ave. near 70th Street. No arrests have been made in the case.

Redeveloping old Bossier

In order to fill the next generation of workers for its burgeoning information industry, Bossier City is currently in the midst of redeveloping its old downtown area.
The vision was unveiled at the July 7 Bossier City Council meeting.

Bossier City is hoping to turn the downtown area known as Old Bossier into a thriving living/work/play space for future generations.
Bossier City is hoping to turn the downtown area known as Old Bossier into a thriving living/work/play space for future generations.

City leaders believe the revitalization effort would create a development providing a feather in the cap of northwest Louisiana when it comes to talent recruitment, as well as securing new businesses.

The catalyst for this plan is a new workforce of 800 jobs through the Computer Science Corporation (CSC) center at the Cyber Innovation Center.

During negotiations with CSC, it was revealed that Bossier City and Lincoln, Neb. were the top two choices for the relocation. Local leadership asked what was attractive about Lincoln and were told it came down to the revitalization of the city’s downtown core, which is appealing to the Millennial workforce (age group classified as born between the early 1980s to 2000) that will make up the CSC.

Project Architect Mike McSwain said as much when he unveiled the project to the council , “The driving factor was this workforce of Millennials, which are the core of CSC’s staff and tech workforce.”

the overall master plan calls for a central plaza as focal point for development, maintaining Barksdale Boulevard as a commercial street, and creating a dense core area as a mixed use town center.

“Folks can live above store fronts, live within steps from where they work, walk restaurants, enjoying activities in the plaza,” said Sims.

They envision a development with residential components developing around the central core with connectivity to the rest of the development with

Radiate out from central core, allow for more residential components to develop with sidewalks and bicycle lanes plus a walking bridge to the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets.

“We think this is a place that wants to be vibrant 24-7 and if it’s done properly, there’s no reason it can’t be. We think of it as a place where people want to live and stay,” said Sims.

Phase I of the plan would capture the spirit of the development to jump start further development. This includes developing a core featuring the already existing Flying Heart Brewery, L’Italiano restaurant, Bossier Arts Council, and Hoot and Holler Archery off a redeveloped Barksdale Boulevard. The town center would surround plaza space with a new retail street, a mixed use development with commercial restaurants and retail on the bottom floor and 115-unit apartments above it, and a multi-story economic incubator building.

Other projects in Phase I would include street scaping, redeveloping the roads flanking Barksdale Boulevard, and burying power lines.

The essential idea is to create a critical mass to get the development going and set a high standard to allow the development to grow organically with private investment.

“You set the bar high from the beginning for a future development to be at that standard,” said McSwain.

He predicts the first phase of the project could go out to bid by the end of the year with construction beginning in 2016 and lasting 18 months.

The rough estimate for the project is between $10 – $12 million.

The full revitalization effort is predicted to be completed in 10 years.

Bossier Schools responds to ACLU’s accusations

The ACLU of Louisiana has sent an open letter to Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen in September concerning “a pattern of religious proselytization” at Airline High School.

Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

The letter from Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman claims that Airline has “established “prayer boxes” with Christian symbols throughout the school” and “by religious messages in newsletters posted on the school’s website.” Esman also points out a message posted on the school’s website from Principal Jason Rowland that includes the phrase, “…May God Bless You All…”

The Bossier Parish School Board unanimously passed a resolution at its Oct. 1 regular session meeting, following an executive session with its legal counsel, that says the school district respects and seeks to preserve the constitutional rights of all its students and employees. The board says they recognize and embrace “its responsibility to respect and conform to the provisions” of federal and state constitutions and laws “as they pertain to the fundamental rights of students and employees to engage in free speech and the free exercise of religion.”

State Representative Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) said the school board was unanimous in their resolve to stand for the rights of students, the rights of religious freedom and the principles of free speech. He called the board’s meeting a big night for not only the parish, but for the state and country.

“They have decided to ignore the demands of the ACLU and to reaffirm that we believe in the First Amendment, equal access and students’ rights in Bossier Parish,” Johnson said. “This is a symbolic gesture that says the school districts here, around the state and around the country will not be bullied by legal organizations that have a radical secular agenda for public schools. They have made a very strong statement here that says we respect the constitution in Bossier Parish and we stand by that.”

The community continues to support Airline High School and Principal Jason Rowland, who has been thrown into the national spotlight since the ACLU’s letter was sent. Thousands gathered outside the school for a prayer rally.

The ACLU of Louisiana’s Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman says students have the “absolute right to pray in school.” However, they “do not have the right to impose that on others.” That includes “having religious symbols around the school” because “everyone sees them.”

Esman claims that Rowland “has violated…legal mandates by invoking God, prayer, and Christianity in school publications and on school grounds.”

Airline High School was thrust into the spotlight after someone, who Esman would not identify, filed a complaint against the school. They also received a photograph of the “prayer box” that was to be put out by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and a copy of the text written by Rowland from the school’s website.

Esman said the ACLU exists to “defend the constitutional rights of everybody.”

“There is a widespread misunderstanding about the ACLU’s position on freedom of religion,” she said. “We are not anti-religion or anti-Christian at all. But the law is very clear that school officials are prohibited from engaging in religious activities and from promoting religion at all in school. We didn’t make it up. That is the law.”

A lawsuit has not been filed against the school system. Johnson feels as though there will not be a formal response from the ACLU regarding the board’s action.

“Any time you get a demand letter or threat, it’s appropriate to review your policies and procedures, which they did here. It was, by the board’s investigation, affirmed that the ACLU was wrong,” he said. “If litigation ensues, [Freedom Guard has] offered our services to the board free of charge.”

Local election heats up

The District 36 Senate race was long and hard, but a winner was chosen.

Ryan Gatti, received 51 percent of votes to secure the Senate District 36 seat. Gatti, a Republican, was out of the country on a mission trip to Haiti and missed Election Day. However, he posted a brief message on his Facebook page following the results – “Thank you. I am humbled and I will not let you down!!!!!!”

Gatti said he is eager to serve the people in his district. When asked why he wants to represent District 36, Gatti responded, “Throughout my practice, I’ve represented people in northwest Louisiana. That’s been my heart and that’s why I became a lawyer and have my own practice so that I can help people in the community.”

The votes were close in this race. Gatti received a mere 325 more votes than opponent State Rep. Henry Burns, a Republican, who received 49 percent of the total votes. Burns, however, received the majority of votes in three of the four parishes in the Senate 36 district.

Burns says now that the election is over, he will spend more time with his family. With his children grown and on their own, he says he’s looking forward to spending time with them and his grandchildren, attending various events and supporting them.

I’ve enjoyed my years of public service and look forward to working in my business and spending time with my children and grandchildren,” he said, “and just continue to be a good, taxpaying citizen in our community.”

Dodie Horton, the legislative assistant to current state Rep. Henry Burns, won the District 9 seat in the House, defeating Mike McHalffey. Horton, a Republican, received 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for McHallfey, a Republican, according to the unofficial results.

Jill Sessions was elected the next clerk of court for Bossier Parish on Saturday, handily defeating a candidate from the district attorney’s office. Sessions, who is currently the chief deputy clerk of court, will succeed Cindy Johnston, who did not seek re-election.

Tax Assessor Bobby Edmiston won re-election, easily defeating challenger Patsy Maggio. Edmiston received 76 percent of the vote to 24 percent for Maggio, according to complete but unofficial returns.

Three of the 12 incumbent police jurors had challengers but all three were re-elected. Results of the three contested elections for seats on the Bossier Parish Police Jury.
District 4: Sonny Cook (I), 54 percent; John Ed Jorden, 46 percent.
District 5: Jack Skaggs (I), 63 percent; Barry Butler, 37 percent.
District 9: Freddy Shewmake (I), 60 percent; Charles Gray, 40 percent.
{(I) indicates incumbent}

Bossier acquires a piece of history
A piece of history has made its way to Bossier City in July and has become a permanent part of the local landscape.
A 16-foot steel beam from the World Trade Center towers, recovered from Ground Zero in New York City following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, arrived in Bossier and was put on permanent display at the Liberty Garden, located between the Bossier City Fire and Police Departments, in memory of those whose lives were lost that tragic day in 2001.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

Efforts to acquire the 9/11 artifact began nearly four years ago when local businessman and Keep Bossier Beautiful President Tom Lawson was in Indiana and saw “Project Indianapolis,” a memorial comprised of twisted pieces of metal from the Twin Towers.
“It moved me. I felt the energy when I walked up to those beams,” Lawson said. “It brought me back to that day. Everybody I know remembers that day and what they were doing. I felt we needed it for our 9/11 memorial in Bossier City. It will be a most appropriate addition.”
Lawson and his son, Scott, worked with the Bossier City Mayor’s Office and Keep Bossier Beautiful to put the wheels in motion to secure the beam. Word came on Feb. 13, 2015 that the beam would be coming to Bossier.
“Four years is a long time when you’re waiting on something,” Lawson said. “It has taken a while for it to finally get here.
Lawson said the most important thing is to remember the people who lost their lives and what was ultimately taken from America that day.
No public funds will be used to place the monument. Instead, funds were donated by Calumet for the memorial.
Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker commended Lawson and the Keep Bossier Beautiful team for discovering this opportunity and their persistence to making it happen.
“We are very fortunate to have this special beam to add to our Liberty Garden,” Walker said. “It will serve to help us never forget the terrorist attack on our soil and the significance it has had on all of our lives. We have construction plans to install it with all of the dignity and honor that it deserves. Its presence will make our annual Patriots Day Celebration all the more memorable.”

Bateman named BPCC’s Chancellor
Dr. Douglas “Rick” Bateman Jr. has been appointed the new chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College.

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

The announcement was made April 8 at the Louisiana Community and Technical College System’s board meeting. Bateman was selected from a pool of four finalists.

“Our search for BPCC’s chancellor provided an exceptional pool of finalists,” said Dr. Monty Sullivan. “We are confident that Dr. Bateman embodies the requisite skills and vision needed to lead BPCC into the next phase of its development and to provide solutions to the workforce needs of Louisiana.”

Bateman now becomes the sixth chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College. In December, he was chosen to serve as interim chancellor of BPCC after former chancellor Dr. Jim Henderson was named President of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. He also served as the Interim Director of Northwest Louisiana Technical College.

“It is an honor for me to continue to serve the students and community of Bossier Parish,” said Bateman. “I would like to thank the board, students, faculty and staff for entrusting me to continue to advance education in the state of Louisiana,” he said. “I look forward to serving and providing solutions for the needs of our state.”

The recommendation was made by LCTCS after an open and competitive national search that included on campus interviews and public forums with students, faculty and staff, and community members.

Bateman said his leadership style is driven by core values that include courtesy, integrity, perseverance, respect, trust, and personal growth. When asked why he chose BPCC, Bateman said he felt best fit for the job.

“I believe that God wants us to take our greatest talents and apply them where we find the greatest need. That has driven a lot of the decisions I’ve made as a professional. I was invited to provide interim leadership at BPCC, but I didn’t think this is where God would lead me. I’ve realized that there is a contribution for me to make here. There are things that I can do to help BPCC get to the next level and I do believe that I am the best fit. You won’t find anyone that will love BPCC like I love BPCC. You certainly won’t find anyone that will work as hard as I will for this college and community.”

CenturyLink Center undergoing rebirth as 15-year anniversary arrives
(Courtesy of Biz. Magazine)
After 15 years in the Shreveport-Bossier market, the CenturyLink Center has been a consistent economic generator and positive addition to the overall quality of life for residents. While it has gone through its ups and downs as any business or entity has, CenturyLink Center General Manager Rebecca Bonnevier believes the arena is undergoing a rebirth.
Bonnevier was part of the original team that helped open the arena in 2000 and said she is seeing the market and industry circle back around to a new honeymoon period just in time for the arena’s 15-year anniversary.
“Every new building enjoys a honeymoon period — because it’s new, everyone wants to go. Then comes 2007-2009 and the industry changed where you didn’t have the same number of shows on tour. I’m definitely seeing a turnaround. This past year had some high profile shows and that had to do with an economy that is getting better, an industry that’s getting stronger, this market proved we’re hungry for high caliber entertainment, and business partners who are willing to invest in this building.”
Currently, the CenturyLink Center may not appear to be a hub of activity, however, Cirque du Soleil has been renting the arena for rehearsal in order to launch their “Toruk” show. This is a perfect example of the fact that even though there may not be a major event taking place, the CenturyLink Center is still bringing in dollars to the area. She pointed out Cirque du Soleil is occupying the arena for three months and will have a multi-million dollar impact, which will be measured with a Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau economic impact study. She noted that the SBCTB’s study of Taylor Swift’s two-day rehearsal showed a $1.7 million impact, so the management is expecting big numbers from this most recent stay.
“Even if an event isn’t going on, there’s still many things going on behind the scenes,” said Bonnevier. “We generate revenue for the building and the area all the time — whether that’s through a rehearsal or people renting our parking lot for a 5K event. We try to utilize this facility to the best of Bossier City and Shreveport.”
Similar to the notion that without a concert or major public event, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that not having a sports tenant in the building is a wasted opportunity. However, Bonnevier explained that not having a sports team can be a benefit in that it allows schedule flexibility, which is an incentive to attract major performers such as Taylor Swift, Elton John and others.
If you have a sports team that is greatly supported by the community, it is always a benefit to have them in the arena, especially knowing that your venue will be filled by fans 40 or so times a year.  But if you have a sports tenant that does not draw enough people, you tie up your calendar 40 weekend dates a year with a game that only draws 2,500 or less people, and then you do not have dates available for concerts that can accommodate up to 14,000,” said Bonnevier.
And that flexibility in scheduling is paying off as Bonnevier said there are several high profile shows for 2016 she is unable to announce right now. Another benefit of the CenturyLink Center the past 15 years is an understated, but crucial, element to Shreveport-Bossier — quality of life.  Bonnevier pointed out that a lot of markets would’ve loved to have Taylor Swift, but for the CenturyLink Center to get her in this market, where residents can drive minutes from their homes, get free parking and see the hottest show of 2015 in their own backyard make the area’s quality of life more attractive.
“This market is a tremendous place to live, raise a family and this arena adds to that with family shows, sporting events, or concerts. It means people can see major events and stay here, where they’re comfortable,” she said.

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