3Qs with BancorpSouth Arena's Todd Hunt

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

The Tupelo Coliseum Commission, which oversees the BancorpSouth Arena, is considering building a new entertainment venue.
The plan is in its initial phases, and questions about funding remain. The goal is to create a more intimate performance space than the arena. One of the next steps involves creating an artist’s rendering of a proposed building.
Todd Hunt, arena director, recently spoke with the Journal’s M. Scott Morris about the commission’s plan.
Q: What would a new entertainment facility cost, and what are potential funding sources?
A: I’m not in construction so it’s hard for me to give a true estimate of costs. Similar facilities are currently being built for anywhere from $8 million to $150 million. Funding could come from both private and public sources.

Q: What kinds of acts would such a venue draw compared to the acts that come to the BancorpSouth Arena?
A: The venue would cater to niche acts that need more than 500 but less than 3,000 seats. All types of music, comedy, theater, and dance acts would be welcome.
Singer-songwriter performances, blues, bluegrass, and alternative are just some of the musical styles that could work in the right venue.

Q: Are there specific venues in Northeast Mississippi that you’re trying to emulate?
A: Not really. The (University of Mississippi’s) Ford Center in Oxford and (Mississippi State University’s) Lee Hall Auditorium in Starkville both have elements of what we envision but our scope is broader than either facility.
Both have theatrical rigging systems, extra acoustical treatments, and a certain atmosphere that is hard to emulate in an arena. Our goal is to create a facility that contains these elements and more.