By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Elvis Presley Birthplace leaders broke ground Monday on an event center and theater that they hope will help double the visitor count over the next five years.
The new building will house a 135-seat theater, reception hall, meeting room, gallery space, snack area, offices, bathrooms and storage space. The gift shop also will be expanded.
“It’s important to continue to refresh and build to it so we continue to be a destination,” said Henry Dodge, chairman of the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation board.
The event center and other projects are phase one of a $5 million to $6 million expansion planned by the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation board. The projects are funded partially by a $2.8 tourism bond bill approved by the state last year.
The City of Tupelo, the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Carpenter Foundation and the foundation are providing the 20 percent match of $560,000.
Dodge expects work to be done in a year. Panola Construction of Batesville won the bid.
The second phase, which may include improvements to the overlook and additional Elvis sculptures, will start once funds are raised, he said.
“It’s all about building venues that reflect the story,” Dodge said.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.