Dixie Center to keep name; leaders vote early amid criticism

The Dixie Center in southern Utah has announced it will keep its name despite previous considerations after voting to rebrand the convention center in June.

The center’s board voted 5-2 on Tuesday to keep the name, but incorporate the county’s Greater Zion marketing at the center, KUER-FM reported.

Washington County Commissioner Gil Almquist said the decision was made after the board received feedback from the community.

“The part of an elected official is to listen,” Almquist said. “It was a misunderstanding initially of the role Greater Zion would play and that it pushed the name Dixie out, which was not my intent.”

Dixie is a nickname for the southern U.S. states that formed the pro-slavery Confederacy in 1860, sparking the Civil War. Critics have said the term is racially insensitive.

The debate over the name started when the board unanimously voted to rebrand the center to Greater Zion, which is in line with the county’s tourism marketing.

Some members of the community opposed the change. In response, the board reverted the name back for six months to conduct more research. Four months ahead of schedule, the board voted to permanently keep the name Dixie.

“Maybe some future board will decide now it’s time,” said St. George Mayor Jon Pike, who voted against the change. “Clearly there’s a lot of people that don’t believe it’s time now. I don’t think we should necessarily respond to that public clamor all the time. But in this case, there wasn’t a strong business decision that said we need to change the name today.”

The decision to stick with Dixie came as the city’s hospital recently announced it will remove the name next year and Dixie State University has received pressure to consider a change.

The convention center was built in St. George, Utah, in 1998, and underwent renovations in 2006.