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The management of U.S. Cellular Coliseum is off to a good start scheduling events to strengthen the faith of those who believe in the Bloomington arena and to help convert the doubters.

Several high-caliber acts have been booked for the first six weeks after opening: Sheryl Crow, March 31; John Mellencamp, April 13; and Martina McBride, May 12. In addition, Smucker's Stars on Ice show will be April 5 and three Bloomington Extreme arena football games are scheduled in April.

The variety of entertainment is also good to see: pop singer, rock singer, country singer, ice skating, football. That broad-based approach should continue.

The lineup should at least temporarily put to rest arguments that Bloomington will not be able to attract such talent to the 7,000-seat facility.

Mike Nelson of Central Illinois Arena Management said, "We've been on everybody's radar screen because we are a new venue."

It is important to take advantage of that attention.

Of course, attracting the acts is only the first step. Attracting the audience is the second step.

People who have been clamoring for more things to do in the Twin Cities should step forward and take advantage of these opportunities.

And arena officials need to reach out to their potential audience.

The third step will be bringing them back for more.

To achieve that, it will be important to provide a quality experience for the audience as well as the performers. That boils down to good service - something to be kept in mind as workers are hired for various operations at the Coliseum.

First impressions can be lasting impressions. The impact will go beyond the first visitors. It will extend to friends, families and co-workers who ask how they liked the show or game and how they liked the Coliseum.

A few bugs are likely. That's to be expected when finishing touches will be applied virtually until the moment the doors open for the first event, Sheryl Crow's concert. But good planning can minimize them. That includes contingency plans in the event of inclement weather and/or parking problems.

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