Catering company signs lease in Knoxville Sunsphere

Associated Press • Apr 13, 2007 at 11:30 AM

KNOXVILLE - The reopening of the Knoxville Sunsphere got closer Friday when a catering business agreed to lease two floors in the giant gold globe left from the 1982 World's Fair.

The Sunsphere has been vacant, closed to the public and in disrepair for several years. The city, which owns the Knoxville icon, announced plans in January to reopen it this year in time for the 25th anniversary of the fair.

Chattanooga-based developers Kinsey Probasco Hays won a bid to buy other World's Fair properties and lease the Sunsphere for commercial use. The city will operate an observation deck. Officials have said they plan to open the Sunsphere in September.

Southern Graces Catering & Events has agreed to lease two floors in the Sunsphere, the developers announced Friday.

Southern Graces will provide lunch, snacks and drinks on the "Cafe Floor." At night, there will be bar service and complimentary appetizers "for those interested in a great view and a great cocktail."

Another level will be the "Event Floor" for catered business and social events.

"We expect many wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, holiday parties, celebrations, pre-football game gatherings and business meetings to be held 265 feet above the World's Fair Park," said Bob Sukenik, president of Southern Graces.

"Clearly, the Sunsphere is like no other event venue in Knoxville. With a 360-degree viewing opportunity, visitors will combine fine dining experiences with fantastic views of the Knoxville downtown area and the surrounding natural beauty." The ball contains five levels.

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