After months of struggling with fire codes and regulations from the Public Building Authority, Tony Cappiello has opened the Icon Ultra Lounge on the 5th floor of the Sunsphere.
Cappiello, who has exclusive rental rights to the space on the 5th floor of the 30 year old theme structure of the 1982 World’s Fair, said he has invested an estimated $450,000 to renovate the space. The capacity is now 120 making it three times larger than its predecessor, The Skybox.
Cappiello said he chose to light up the floors, bars and tables so guests could be “wowed by the experience.”
Cappiello said that his plans took into consideration the panoramic view and placed seating in special areas so guests can enjoy the sunsets. He added two-seat tables near the windows and large, over-stuffed booths to round out the new theme.
A new electrical system was installed, the floor was reworked and stained sky blue and a fireplace was added to create a cozy corner. A DJ booth, a second bar and two additional restrooms were also added.
The Rain Bar, which has a continuous stream of water that flows through the bar top and into a nearby water wall, is on one side. The Sun Bar is on the other side and is topped with onyx and covered with gold tufted panels aimed at capturing the look of the famous gold glass panels.
Cappiello said that he studied other bars in cities such as Chicago, Las Vegas and New Orleans. “We wanted to make it an upscale, higher-end establishment,” he said.
Cappiello is an attorney and developer who also purchased the Lord Lindsey, another downtown landmark that he plans to convert into a nightclub. Cappiello said that he enjoyed designing the Icon Ultra Lounge himself. “Choosing the colors, materials and furniture is one of my favorite parts in the process,” he said.
Since parking is always a problem at the Sunsphere, Cappiello said spaces are available at the nearby Knoxville Museum of Art, in the lot next to Church Street United Methodist Church and the Locust Street parking garage next to the YMCA. He says he will provide a golf cart to circle the grounds and plans to add a valet service in the future.
Icon Ultra Lounge is closed on Mondays and is open 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
The 4th floor of the Sunsphere contains the Observation Center and is open from dawn to dusk most days of the year. It is free to the public, however, shoes and shirt are required. Children must be accompanied by an adult. No swimwear allowed. The 6th floor of the Sunsphere is open for rental through Sara Spangler and can be used for small to large parties, weddings, and other events. Call 865 363 9538 for information about how you can rent the space.
Bill Landry is most known for his southeastern Tennessee drawl as host, narrator and co-producer of “The Heartland Series,” a television production that begun and ran on WBIR for 25 years.
The series brought Landry two Emmy Awards for directing the series and honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Lincoln Memorial University. The show also earned the prestigious Iris Award. He also wrote and performs a one-man play “Einstein the Man.”
Landry now has a new title, that of author. In the book, “Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures,” Landry recalls stories, tales, and adventures he collected over the years.
He dedicates the book to his wife Becky, who passed away recently.
Landry appeared at the Sunsphere, May 16, to share some of his experiences with a crowd of about 200. The event was organized by retired teachers, Phyllis Garrison and Martha Woodward.
STEM Academy Singers entertained with The National Anthem, America The Beautiful, and other patriotic standards.
Afterwards, Landry and Publisher Jim Johnston held a meet-and-greet where many of the attendees purchased the “Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures,” book which Landry and Johnston autographed.
“What is humor?” Landry asked, followed by a number of examples that only he can deliver so well.
He told the story of Delmar Cagle of Townsend. “I was in little Becky’s awhile back and saw Delmar. He’s 72 and still works everyday. Delmar told me, ‘I am going to be a new father. I will be the father of a baby boy. If everything goes well it will be nine months from last Saturday night.’”
The book, Landry says, is something he has been thinking about for 25 years. “It has a hundred stories,” then Landry goes back into storytelling mode, almost as if -well, it IS his nature.
“I want to tell you how I broke my finger. I was doing a story about Buford Strunk. Buford had a dog, a blue-tick hound, that ran through a fence and I ran through it chasing him.”
Landry said he had a hard time explaining when he filed an insurance claim when he dislocated another finger on the job. “I was chasing goats.”
Out comes another story, “A woman called me in a panic. It was cold and all her animals swam to an island in the Clinch River, and she wanted me to get them off because the dogs were attacking her goats. ‘We can’t do much with a camera crew, I told her. ‘But if you can get some people to help we’ll come and film it.’
“She called me back. ‘We got 35 people to help,’ she said. We had 35 people stretched out trying to catch the goats. “We didn’t catch any animals, but Igot a dislocated finger.”
Landry said he learned during “The Heartland Series,” “I found out what it’s like to stick your hand in hole where a catfish lived.”
Landry continues on the circuit peddling stories, but now in written form, in the book, “Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures.”
The Sunsphere was the theme structure for the 1982 World’s Fair.
Work began on it in January 1981 and was completed April 1982.
The tower is 192 ft. while the ball is 74 ft.; making a total of 266 ft.
Community Tectonics was the architectural firm that designed it. Rentenbach was the General Contractors.
It cost $6.6 million to construct and install all equipment and furniture.
The tower is 192 ft. while the ball is 74 ft.; making a total of 266 ft. It has never revolved.
The Sunsphere is owned by the city of Knoxville.
It was purchased in 1986 from private investors for $750,000.
The Sunsphere is managed by the Public Building Authority,
and is a part of World’s Fair Park. There are 3 elevators in the Sunsphere; two for passengers, one
known as the service elevator. The round trip takes 3 minutes.
The original elevators had clear doors allowing for viewing of the fair site;
those doors wore out.
The windows have 14 carat gold flecks molded inside the glass panes.
The tower was originally painted a dark blue.
The steel frame is encased in 30,000 tons of concrete.
It is built with the same kind of engineering as a floor lamp; it sways in the wind. There are 8 levels. Levels one, two, and three are “ground levels”.
Levels 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are in the golden ball. Level 4 is known as the Observation Deck. It has a capacity of 68. Level 5 contains kitchen equipment left by Hardee’s. It was previously home to
the Blue Room, and contained blue velvet on the mirrored framed walls until 2009. Level 6 is said to truly give the best view, since the windows are flat. It was used
for the Sunsphere Restaurant and held approximately 130 people. Level 7 was used as office space, and dining. Level 8 was previously home to more Observation. There are 2 restrooms on each floor in the golden ball, and two on level 3.
The Sunsphere is currently being leased from the city by Kinsey-Probasco-Hayes
Sara Spangler is the exclusive booking agent for the 6th floor which is used
Level 4 is open daily for observation; admission is free.
Knoxville’s Sunsphere will welcome Bill Landry on Wednesday, May 16 from 11:30 until 1 p.m. as the featured speaker for Luncheon for Laughers.
Sara Spangler of Prolific Living, the exclusive booking agent for the Sunsphere, says that hosting an event that includes Landry is a thrill. “We love keeping the 6th floor of the golden ball filled with activity,” she said. “We were pleased to see this deal develop and become a reality.”
Landry says he has been given two rules for the Luncheon for Laughers: l. Be yourself and 2. ONLY humorous stories allowed. He says he has plenty of those.
Luncheon for Laughers will have a country theme and include music, a picnic-style lunch and door prizes. It will be a time when people can sit in one of the most beautiful settings this city has to offer and enjoy a tasty lunch while listening to Bill spin yarns and funny stories.
Those who attend are guaranteed to laugh until their tummies hurts.
The Sunsphere will be an important setting for Landry who says the response his fans have had to his book “Appalachian Tales and Heartland Adventures” has been overwhelming and heart-warming.
“Seeing lines of folks waiting to meet you does something to you—it pulls at your heart strings,” he said.
Martha Woodward, a local writer who is serving as treasurer for the event, says she became involved with the event because it is a relief from all the negative news. “We are bombarded 24/7 with murder, mayhem, floods, tornadoes, missing children and angry mobs,” she said. “People need something refreshing and positive. We need a break and some fun. I love to laugh. I can‘t wait to hear what Bill has in store for us. Everyone around here thinks Bill belongs to us. He’s like a friend who has been in our homes for 25 years.”
Tickets for Luncheon for Laughers are on sale now and include admission and lunch. $16 for Individuals and $120 for a Table of 8 (if 8 seats purchased at one time). You may buy tickets in 2 ways: e mail
Sunspherebook@aol.com or call 865 951 0319. Hurry and buy your ticket now, space is limited. Sponsorships also available.
Bill will also have books on sale before and after the event. Soft cover $27; hard cover $49.
Nearly 30 years after the opening of the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Doug Minter with the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, has stepped forth to claim that his dad, Will Minter, designed a solar dome in 1977 that could have been the inspiration behind the building that became known as the Sunsphere that was designed in 1979.
Back in 1977, Will Minter and his son entered a contest to design a theme structure that would tie Oak Ridge to the fair. Minter’s concept included a solar dome perched on a metal base. The Minters won first place in the contest, but never knew what happened to the drawing they entered; they kept no copy.
Minter agrees that the structure he designed was different from the Sunsphere in some vital ways. Minter’s Solar Dome was to be solar-powered. It contained restaurants, boutiques, and a greenery spot inside. It was to be placed in Oak Ridge near Chestnut Ridge Park and joined with their business district via a monorail or tramway system. It was loosely based on the design of Seattle’s Space Needle, and it was not a tower, but a dome-shape that rested on the ground. Minter also planned for his building to be used after the fair as a tourist site.
Doug Minter is currently doing research into this topic and would be grateful to anyone who may have knowledge or supporting documents about the design of the Solar Dome. Minter has found newspaper articles from the Oak Ridger that describe the contest at that time. He believes his dad’s design should be recognized and receive a place of honor in history.
Doug Minter said, “Our aim is just to have my father’s impact added as a point of history. It is clear that William Denton and his team deserve all credit for making the Sunsphere a “REALITY”. Our goal is just to highlight that two great individuals had similar ideas which are to be commended. For the record though my father was two years ahead of the curve!”
Excitement was in the air high atop the Sunsphere as Sara Spangler, exclusive booking agent for the golden ball, gave one last check to the arrangements for the Padgett for Mayor’s election night party. Over two hundred supporters began to gather at 7 p.m. to munch on an array of sandwiches, cheeses and vegetables while also enjoying adult beverages as they waited for election results.
The music was loud and emotions were high until early voting results were announced at approximately 8:15 p.m. There was an audible groan as news came that Rogero was leading by over 2,000 votes. Unfortunately for Padgett, the numbers did not change much as the precincts began to report the day‘s voting results. By 9:30 p.m. an e mail was sent out by the Padgett campaign telling everyone that Mark had called Madeline. If was over; he conceded the election; she won.
Padgett soon appeared as the bright lights of the TV cameras began to flash and the elevator to the 6th floor of the Sunsphere opened.
Mark Padgett gave the following concession speech to a host of saddened faces:
While I’m obviously disappointed by the results, I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run.
We cast a vision of economic growth and job creation; of stronger, safer and more-connected neighborhoods; and of a more efficient, transparent and accessible city government.
We had dedicated staff, 28 interns and dozens of volunteers who helped put up thousands of yard signs, raise over $535,000 and make 38,000 voter contacts through knocking on doors and making phone calls.
We shared my vision for Knoxville with hundreds of community groups, neighborhood associations, and businesses … and at over 52 debates and forums.
We ran a positive campaign based on issues, ideas and vision — and we worked around the clock, every minute of every day.
So I’m proud of the work we did.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank my family, my staff, my volunteers, my interns and all those who invested in my campaign.
I wish Madeline, her family, and her team the best.
And I want to thank her for a spirited and passionate campaign — she and I participated in over 55 debates, forums and interviews together. I believe this was one of the most open and transparent campaigns in the history of Knoxville.
And let me end this campaign with one final message.
We can’t forget the thousands of Knoxvillians who voted for our vision to move Knoxville forward.
They voted for improving the relationship with the business community so we can create jobs and grow Knoxville’s economy.
They voted for fiscal responsibility, low taxes and reasonable regulations … and using technology and innovation to cut waste and red tape at all levels of city government.
They voted for turning Knoxville’s $300 million in redevelopment plans — from the Magnolia Corridor to the South Knoxville Waterfront — into reality.
And they voted for a more-connected city … both physically and culturally.
Those dreams and aspirations don’t disappear with this campaign.
It’s up to me and it’s up to you to keep pushing these issues throughout our community.
I look forward to working with all of you in the future to make Knoxville an even better place to live — because the only way we’re going to move Knoxville forward is by working together.
Thank you and god bless!
Padgett then moved throughout the group thanking his supporters and receiving hugs and well wishes from them.
Get your swag on!! Stephen A. Burroughs, a local attorney, is getting attention on social media by getting 11,000 likes on Facebook. Burroughs, who has come to be known due to the billboards he put up around town, told his fans he would have a big party if he got to 10,000 “likes”. When he reached that number, the party was on. Burroughs’ popularity began to grow when a freshman student, Ryan Clark, from the University of Tennessee created a page of memes about him. A “meme” is a saying that gives respect to a person. Such as “Stephen A. Burroughs does not listen to music, music listens to him.”
On Friday, September 9, beginning at 7 p.m. Burroughs’ party began after he had invited his followers to meet him at the Sunsphere with an invitation at
. Burroughs provided food, 3 bands, and over 4,000 tee shirts to the thousands who were in attendance. He also gave away vacations and other prizes at his event.
For those out of the loop, “swag” is an expression that means that the individual is handsome, cool, appealing, well-dressed and popular. Stephen A. Burroughs is said to have swag in spades.
Burroughs said he chose the Sunsphere as the sight for his party because a meme said it is his “palace.” However, since the Sunsphere is limited in the number of guests it can accommodate, the party spilled over to the Convention Center.
Guests arrived in an array of finery from ball gowns and tuxedos to jeans and tee shirts. Burroughs was his usual, well- dressed self with his beard trimmed to perfection. Where else will this budding icon take his fans? Only the future and Ryan Clark, may know.
Early Voting began in Knoxville this week and will continue until September 22. The Primary Election will be held on September 27, so get yourself to the polls and vote.
Stephen A. Burroughs does not get to have all the fun. Here are some memes written by Dan Andrews in December 2010. “She taught Chinese Checkers to the Chinese…..When she drives down a one-way street, the WRONG WAY signs turn around…. UFOs report seeing her; but nobody believes them! The people at the DMV, wait for her…she is
On August 23 and 24, Bill Cotter, author of over 50 books, contributor to hundreds of others, world’s fair and Disney expert, and his wife, Carol, traveled to Knoxville from Los Angeles, Californai in order to meet with Martha Rose Woodward and tour the site of the 1982 World’s Fair site. The Cotters were in Nashville checking their son into Vanderbilt and decided to visit other points of interest in this area.
Cotter said it had been a goal of his for several years to meet Woodward. Cotter, who is considered one of the nation’s leading historians on world’s fairs held in the USA, has corresponded via e mail with Woodward since her book Knoxville’s Sunsphere was published in 2007. Cotter, who is also an avid photographer and collector of vintage world’s fair photos, was happy for the opportunity to make pictures of the Sunsphere, the Tennessee Amphitheater and World’s Fair Park.
”Meeting Bill was like meeting a real life hero,” said Woodward. “Bill worked for Walt Disney and wrote the quintessential books, Disney from A to Z, and the The Wonderful World of Disney Television, a history and episode guide of every Disney television series,” said Woodward. “ Bill wears many hats. It is amazing to talk to him. He is sought out by people from around the world for his knowledge of USA world’s fair and the Disney empire. How many times in a person’s life do you get to meet with someone who is an expert about popular television shows like Zorro and Davy Crockett?”she asked. Woodward says the Cotters were so impressed with Knoxville and the surrounding area they are considering retiring here within the next five years.
Tony Cappiello, a local attorney and real estate developer, thinks he can do something none have been able to do before him—-make a success of the 5th Floor at the Sunsphere by opening an upscale bar and lounge.
Cappiello leased the space and is remodeling the entire 5th floor by clearing out the last renovation and refurbishing the floor plan to take advantage of what the says is the “draw” of the Sunsphere, namely the view.
Cappiello, turned to the lead architect for the Sunsphere, Bill Denton, of Morristown, to help with the new plans that call for a defined foyer by adding a half wall in front of the elevators that will have signs directing visitors to either side of the Sunsphere. The floor will actually have two separate spaces so that, if needed, one can be in use for a private party while the other continues to be open to the public. Each space will hold about 60 people. Cappiello has worked with the Fire Marshall to remove some of the original kitchen equipment that is no longer in use in order to free up space. The new kitchen has been totally reworked and will be more efficient.
“Bill Denton is awesome,” said Cappiello. “He loaned me the original plans for the Sunsphere and we have had several long discussions about remodeling.”
Cappiello says he plans for two bars on the fifth floor. One will have a water theme and a the other will have a sun theme. “If you go to the right, which is the West view where the sun sets, we will have what we call a sun bar. We will have a fireplace type feature,” Cappiello said. He plans for a variety of drinks—alcoholic and non-alcoholic to be on the menu along with appetizers and desserts. Names for the two spaces have not been chosen at this date.
Chad Copenhaver, part of the management team that oversees the Sunsphere’s fifth and sixth floors, said that the Sunsphere can be used for just about any kind of event you can imagine. He said that the sunrises and sunsets from high above the World’s Fair Park are something that can take your breath away.