701 W Lime St Lakeland, FL 33815
The Lakeland Center sits on the 35 acres of land of one of Lakeland’s first settlements developed in the 1880’s – The Moorhead Community. Railroad laborers working on the Henry B. Plant railroad lines and other African-Americans moved here to begin construction in 1882 on a railroad line from Tampa eastward through Lakeland to Bartow Junction. In 1884, Lakeland’s first African-American church, St, John’s Baptist, was founded and the City’s first black school was established soon thereafter. Rev. H.R. Moorhead became pastor of the St. John Church in 1906. He was an esteemed champion for the rights of his people and it is believed that the Moorhead Community was named in his honor. This neighborhood experienced a rapid growth of homes, churches and businesses that included Lakeland’s first African-American physician, Dr. David Simpson.
In 1967 the City of Lakeland began plans for the development of a larger civic center than the one on Lake Mirror,and in 1971 acquired the land of the Moorhead Community. The new civic center opened in November 1974 on the property west of the city. It was the largest most complete complex of its kind in Central Florida. The name was changed to The Lakeland Center in June 1994 when plans were made to double the size of the Sikes Exhibition hall and renovate the Youkey Theatre and Jenkins Arena. And in 1996 the renovation of the current Lakeland Center was completed.
The Lakeland Center has hosted many legendary artist and many of today’s artists including:
• Elton John
• Elvis Presley
• Ricky Martin
• Sheryl Crow
• Gloria Estefan
The Lakeland Center continues to be one of Central Florida’s most complete complexes for conventions, sports, entertainment and so much more.