NQC Review Part 1: My Thoughts On The LeConte Center

Tonight I sit in bed, unwinding from 2 great days at the National Quartet Convention in it’s new location in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I attended both the Tuesday and Wednesday night concerts and enjoyed the music both nights thoroughly. I thought I would take a few moments to hit on a few key things that impressed me about my time here. Let me first start off with my thoughts on the new venue, the LeConte Center.


The City: It was absolutely beautiful during our time in Pigeon Forge, and you could not have asked for better weather. I could not have been happier with our time there and I enjoyed it thoroughly! Pigeon Forge was a great host city for NQC.

Seating: There are many mixed reviews from the fans on the new home of the NQC. Some people have been pleased with the new venue, while others have not been so impressed. Despite it’s appearance in pictures or videos, The LeConte Center is not a small venue, at all. The 10,000 seat auditorium served it’s patrons well for the most part. I sat 8 rows from the front and had a great view. The majority of comments that I have seen from people sitting near the back of their sections were not so positive, saying that they could not see the stage or their view was obstructed by those in front of them. I guess your satisfaction would depend upon where you were sitting. But for me personally, I was very happy with my seats both nights.

Sound: Everynight is a different experience, sometimes the sound was great. Sometimes it was horrible. But all in all, it was what you’ve come to expect at NQC. When it was good, it was good. But when it was bad, it was ridiculous. The Rick Webb Family’s set I would pick as the worst moment of my time at the convention. The sound was never right for them, and it fed back horribly for the first half of their performance of “Oh For A Thousand Tongues”.

Booth Space: Booth spaces were quite an adjustment this year, as the booths shifted from one location (Louisville) to being more spread out throughout the lobby of The LeConte Center. While most of the major groups tables lined up the hall that led around to the food court, some were set up in various locations. There was a conference room where a majority of groups were located, but there were some smaller rooms off to the side that had some booths as well. Not the best setup but I was eventually able to find all the groups I wanted.

Food Court: The new Food Court was what I expected, not a whole lot of options and way too much money. Not pleased with it at all.

Parking: This is the biggest issue. The parking is a joke. Before the doors opened both nights, the lot was 90% full. With nowhere to put people, folks were forced to either park across the street or at different locations. Then there was the tram issue. There were trams that picked up the group and took them back to their section of the parking lot. You would not believe the flat out rudeness and hostility of CHRISTIAN people, shoving and pushing folks out of the way to get a seat on the  tram. I witnessed police officers having to raise their voice to SENIOR CITIZENS, so they would stand on the sidewalk and patiently wait for their ride. And Thank God for the Pigeon Forge Police Department and their presence there. I cannot believe it, but we could of been on the brink of a riot because of impatient people who should know better than to act how they were.

Traffic: I recall hearing someone in a prominent group remarking , “I live there and I can tell you there will not be heavy traffic, its the off season.” Well, we all quickly figured out that was not the case. Once 3:30 hit traffic moved VERY slowly, and it was slow moving getting out of the Parking Lot.


I heard some complaints from folks who had attended Louisville for years. The main complaint is that the seating/views were not as good, especially from farther away. As I said, i was 8 rows from the stage so I cannot judge it, but I understand their point of view and frustration. But I will say that when I stood in the back of the hall and watched, the view was not horrible. Sometimes people don’t realize how good they had it until it’s gone. Louisville was the perfect setup (especially when you figure that all the showcases were on site) and as nice as Pigeon Forge was, I missed Freedom Hall. It’s a mixed bag, but you can’t have everything you want. Would you rather walk up a ton of stairs to get to an upper bowl seat where you can see everything, even if its farther away? Or would you rather not have to walk steps, but possibly sit farther back and be forced to watch the screens, which is what you would have been doing in the upper bowl of Louisville? There are plenty of kinks that need to be worked out and hopefully they will be in time for next years event.

However, if Christian people cannot voice their displeasure any better than I have witnessed this week, we are in trouble. And let me say if you did not attend this week, you have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to complain about the size of the LeConte Center. The venue is plenty big enough, and video and picture views can be deceiving. I believe there were some falsehoods that were told to many people when it came to topics, such as traffic.  I can’t tell you where this event will be two years from now, but whether its stays in Pigeon Forge or goes elsewhere I hope it will be in a better position than it is today.





8 thoughts on “NQC Review Part 1: My Thoughts On The LeConte Center

  1. I have been going to N Q C for 44 years. The last one in Memphis. Then to Nashville and then Louisville. It was time to go from both places. If you were there you know what I mean. Nashville…….Circle the building with buses………..Louisville you could spend $200.00 per week parking…………still walk a long way. As we grew older the tall steps were out of the question. I am only 60…part of the young crowd.

    This year…………..The parking………….BUT WHEN I WENT UP ON MONDAY TO BUY TICKETS FOR MONDAY AND TUESDAY AND WAS TOLD TUESDAY WAS SOLD OUT. You say …….this is great …..It is…..BUT THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM. We can NEVER GROW. I am a pastor and have promoted Gospel Music for the last 40 years. This is a big problem. It needs to be hit HEAD ON BY THE BOARD AND FAST.

    Just a thought. Have a 2 P.M. show each day with MAJOR GROUPS. The shows all over town do it. Many elderly people would rather not be out at night. Just like a church,
    when you fill up one service you add one service ….not build or move as your first option.

    I was on the back row section 116. Sound was good and I could see everything. I think it was a great move. I am not a whiner or a complainer …This is just the truth. I was there..It was good. BUT……BOARD…PLEASE LISTEN IF YOU DO NOT DO SOMETHING FAST…..YOU WILL NOT HAVE SOLD OUT SHOWS NEXT YEAR ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY. ITS NOW TIME TO SEE IF WE CAN HANDLE SUCCESS. Final thought. If we do not KNOW FILLING UP A NEW PLACE ON THE FIRST TWO NIGHTS IS A PROBLEM. WE CANNOT HANDLE SUCCESS.


    • Several groups live in East Tennessee and some of the groups bragged on Monday night about how good it would be to sleep in their own bed.
      Another reason is likely the board got a sweet deal to move to Pigeon Forge. Some of the older board members are gone and we must question if the board has the integrity and resolve to stand up for the interest of the fans. I fear the greed of the board may be endangering the brand.

  2. Loved the city, attractions, malls and hotels. The LeConte Center was not appropriate for NQC, seats were way too small, I observed a lady unlatching the chairs and moving each chair 5 inches apart to accommodate her and her husband. We had seats in the back, we couldn’t see the stage, and basically watched the jumbo screens. Lots of sound problems. Missed the vendors, and hallways were jam packed before the show, waiting 45 minutes for dinner Thursday night. Trolley service was nice, but Thursday night after the show ppl had to wait an hour for Trolley “C”. Parking was free, but the spaces were 90 % full before the door opened. These issues must be rectified before next year, safety should be number one. Many geriatric persons attend, which equals canes, walkers, wheelchairs,… I am a nurse and am concerned about these patrons. They can not walk long distances, be in crowded hallways, or be expected to wait in long lines. Please be proactive, be accommodating, we have wonderful Christian music with a beneficial message, lets not ruin it by having a horrible environment.
    We need:
    1. To be able to see the stage.
    2. Sound system that enhances the music, no hums, no crackles = no distractions, almost every night they made the announcement to talk quietly during the show, perhaps some Security can make a quiet reminder, like taking a sign that says, be respectful, take the conversation to the hallway, thank you and God Bless You.
    3. Open walkways, safety is #1, too many patrons are fall risks.
    4. Trolley service with minimal waiting.
    5. Parking that is not 90% full before the door opens.
    6. Vendors… bring them back!
    7. More food booths/with more food options.
    8. Bigger seats, bigger walk ways between seats, the poor man at next to us had his foot stepped on four times Saturday night.
    9. Side walks to the trolley that don’t have steps, (geriatric crowd…), lets be safe.

  3. Anyone who had ever been to Pigeon Forge knew that traffic was going to be a problem, and that is the main reason I did not buy tickets and won’t attend so long as it is held there. The folks there must have made NQC a sweetheart deal because there are dozens of places logistically better to hold this event than the one they chose.

  4. There were several promises by at least one board member how good Pigeon Forge was going to be. The fans were literally belittled for doubting. We found out just how that promise turned out. It wasn’t good.

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