Coliseum Commission, 8/20

The BancorpSouth Arena’s Coliseum Commission met today, and there’s plenty of news to go around. Let’s start with the biggest, shall we?

  • On the arena’s possible facelift:

    The arena’s fiscal year begins in October, so it’s time to approve a new budget. Director Todd Hunt proposed a budget today that included dipping into the arena’s $2.5 million capital fund to pay for a $1.8 million facelift.

    He said the outside of the arena is made out of EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system), a Styrofoam-like material. It was first put on the building when it was built 20 years ago, and it needs work. There are actually places within the building, he said, where you can see cracks in the EIFS.

    Simply resurfacing the entire building in EIFS would cost $1.1 million. Hunt proposed spending a bit more and giving the entire building a facelift to look like the rest of downtown Tupelo.

    “We don’t match anything else nearby, except the Auto Museum,” Hunt said. “We stick out because it looks like a 20-year-old building.”

    The McCarty Company developed new design concepts, which Hunt presented at the Commission meeting, which show what the arena’s facelift would look like. The building would still be covered in EIFS, but it would lose its gray/green color scheme in favor of “warm” shades like tan, burgandy and a limestone-like finish. The lobby and other areas of the interior would get a fresh paint job, too. The gray walls of the main arena would be repainted to reflect the exterior color scheme. The EIFS would hold up better, too, with proper maintenence.

    As far as the “BancorpSouth Arena” sign, Hunt said the bank is repsonsible for putting the sign up/taking it down, so they’re working with them on that.
    The facelift would take six months to complete, and Hunt said the company is willing to work with the arena around its schedule. The arena won’t have to shut down during the renovation. The arena turns 20 in October 2013, so the work would be completed in time for a celebration.

    As far as the money’s concerned, the arena has taken care of many things lately that needed fixing/replacing (for example, one of their chiller units will be rebuilt in the coming weeks – that kind of thing). So they’re hoping there aren’t any major repairs needed in the next couple of years that can’t be covered by insurance, while they rebuild their capital fund.

    “This is the time to do it,” said commissioner Scott Reed.

    The commission approved the budget, but it goes before the city next week, where they’ll have to approve it.

    If the city gives the go-ahead, I’l write more about this facelift in the Journal – and will include photos of the design proposals – so stay tuned.

Other news!

  • Director Hunt took two recent trips: one to Ft. Lauderdale for the Venue Connect conference, which is for venue managers, where he met with other directors and promoters.

    The second trip was to Memphis, where he took a few commissioners with him to see the Elvis 35th anniversary concert show. They went to see if it would be a good event to bring to Tupelo.

    The show basically features concert footage of Elvis from ’72 and ’74, while members of his bands at those shows play live. Hunt said there was one hologram-like moment, while most of the time it was concert footage.

    Words like “surreal,” “interesting” and “fun” were used to describe the event – but Reed said it drew a huge crowd, and Elvis, dead for 35 years, received not one, not two, but three standing ovations.

    The tickets are a bit pricey, however: cheapest were $65; most expensive were $300. The arena is considering it for another Elvis birth/death anniversary.

  • With six weeks left in its fiscal year, the arena has had 251,339 through its doors – that makes it its second most succesful year to date, and it’s on track to be a record year. In fact, the arena has seen more than 200,000 at the building per year for the last five years, despite the recession. The arena typically hosts nine concerts in one year, and this year they’ve had 11, including Down on Main. There aren’t any more concerts on the schedule for the rest of this fiscal year, which again ends Oct. 1.

  • Other attendance notes:
    The recent WWE Supershow was the highest-selling non-televised wrestling event the arena has ever had, with 4,665 in the building. Based on those numbers, they hope to bring the WWE crew back in.

    The recent Jeremy Camp show underperformed, bringing in 1,117. Hunt said he was surprised, as most Christian shows are usally very well-attended.

    Most of the folks who attended the Professional Bull Riders show were walk-ups, and it was very successful, with 3,565 in attendance.