Architects show plans for Tupelo's new arts center

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Architects have unveiled drawings for a $15 to $20 million performing arts center for the BancorpSouth Arena campus.
The design presented to the Tupelo Coliseum Commission on Tuesday isn’t complete. Scott Reed, commission chairman, said the point was to get the conversation started.
“I’ve found that it’s easier to raise money for something you can see,” Reed said.
Since the fall, commission officials have been working with Richard McCarty of The McCarty Company and Chris Root with Tek1 Studio.
The designs they presented call for building a 2,000-seat entertainment venue on the east side of the arena at a cost of $15 to $20 million.
It would have 55,000 to 60,000 square feet, including about 20,000 square feet for an atrium area that would connect the BancorpSouth Arena with the BancorpSouth Conference Center and the proposed performance space.
Reed said officials with the Hilton Garden Inn, which owns the BancorpSouth Conference Center, are aware of the atrium idea, but no final approval has been given for the project.
“This is what we like, but that may change,” Reed said.
Neal McCoy, a commission member and executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he had concerns about 150 to 200 parking spaces the proposed building would displace.
Reed said the next step is for commission members to study the proposal over the next month and suggest changes.
The plan is one of several entertainment venues that different organizations have proposed for Tupelo.
No funding has been arranged for the commission’s project.
“We’re hoping to get state funds. We hope the city will come on board and the CVB will come, too,” Reed said. “Federal grant money is always possible.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.