By JACK WEATHERLY
Brandon will build an amphitheater to catch concerts that have been bypassing metro Jackson for lack of a suitable outdoor venue.
The Brandon Amphitheater will built on 250 acres owned by the city south of Interstate 20.
Mayor Butch Lee said in an interview Tuesday that the $20 million development, which will include six ball fields initially, will open April 1, 2018.
But the big impact will be an economic stimulus for the city of about 23,000, he said.
A similar venue built in Tuscaloosa, Ala., six years ago has spurred $91 million in development, including hotels and restaurants, Lee said.
The city has enlisted Red Mountain Entertainment to book acts such as Florida-Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Miranda Lambert, Steely Dan, Boston, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Kid Rock, Alabama Shakes and Earth Wind and Fire.
Those are some of the acts that Red Mountain has booked in similar venues – the 8,400-seat Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and the 9,800-seat Wharf Amphitheater at Orange Beach, Ala., according to Jay Wilson, a partner in Red Mountain.
Red Mountain was also hired by the city to work with Weir, Boerner Allin Architecture of Jackson, oversee selling of corporate sponsorships and premium box seats, book the bands, handle the marketing and run the production of the shows.
Already, sponsorships have been sold to Capital City Beverage, Community Bank, Merit Health and Entergy, Wilson said.
Wilson said the absence of a suitable outdoor venue has cost metro Jackson the opportunity for the level of artists that he books.
At the crossroads of Interstates 20 and 55, the metro area is well situated for drawing from the region, he said.
“We’ve talked to a lot of agents, and they have always said that it would be really nice to have a venue in Jackson, central Mississippi.
“You’ve got the old downtown kind of livestock arena [the Mississippi Coliseum] at the fairgrounds and really beautiful 2,000-capacity Thalia Mara Hall and that’s really it.”
In recent years, once-a-year C-Spire outdoor concerts have been held at the Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland – Darius Rucker, Miranda Lambert and Florida-Georgia Line, on the grounds, with a temporary stage.
Lee said that the city will transform what had been blighted property, the former site of Marquette Cement.
The city got a project cost estimate of $28 million in December. The board of aldermen balked at that and so Lee spearheaded a six-month effort to move 80,000 yards of dirt and 3,000 to 4,000 tons of limestone.
That reduced the cost to $20 million.
The city sold $14 million in tax-free 30-year municipal bonds last week with a 3.17 percent yield. A 2 percent food and beverage in 2013 approved by 75 percent of the city voters will service those bonds, he said.
The balance was raised by issuance of $6 million in 15-year general obligation bonds.
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