Consultant: Entertainment effort needs cooperation

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo leaders on Tuesday discussed cooperating instead of competing when it comes to proposed entertainment venues for the downtown area.
The Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau and the BancorpSouth Arena organized a meeting of tourism officials, attraction owners, community leaders and public officials in hopes of getting everyone up to date on the proposed ideas.
Among the ideas are a concert hall at the BancorpSouth Arena, an indoor stage and an outdoor amphitheater at the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, an entertainment component in the Fairpark District and an addition to or expansion of the Lyric Theatre.
The Lee County Library also would like to add a small auditorium.
Additional Tupelo venues include the Link Center, the Tupelo Furniture Market, the Lee County Agri-Center and various churches.
Officials at the meeting spent about two hours discussing the venues, the downtown entertainment district and the need to identify the specific purposes for each of the venues.
No decisions came out of the meeting.
Berkeley Young, a consultant from Charlotte, N.C., was hired by the CVB to help facilitate the meeting and do some research for the CVB.
Young said one of the biggest unfulfilled promises in development is “build it and they will come.”
“People aren’t going to come just because you build it,” Young said. “Research is required.”
It’s important, he said, to build venues that locals will frequent along with visitors within driving distance of Tupelo.
In addition, leaders discussed how difficult it is to find funding for the proposed venues. If the project is funded, they said, it needs to work.
Plus, Young said, leaders need to make sure that one venue isn’t going to cause another to close by going after the same time-starved target audience.
“The next step is having the solid research to show that you can support it,” Young said. “Test the theories now. … You are rich in opportunities.”

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@journalinc.com.