Brandon Amphitheater brings interest in economic development
Economic opportunities are blossoming in Brandon with the addition, expansion and remodel of several outdoor venues suitable for the entire family.
And the Brandon Amphitheater is arguably the city’s crown jewel.
The city of Brandon recently invested $4.5 million in upgrades at Shiloh Park, which will be home to 17 baseball/softballs fields.
In 2016, Shiloh Park hosted 26 baseball tournaments. With an estimated 12 children on a team, 508 teams were local and 435 were from outside the tri-county area, according to Kyle Brown, Brandon economic development director.
The tournaments brought in 15,000 “day trip” people, and an estimated 18,000 people who spent the night, creating an estimated $5 million economic impact, Brown said.
Six more fields are being constructed across from the Brandon Amphitheater.
“Essentially, the amphitheater provides three necessary elements toward a higher-quality community in which to live, work and play,” said Brandon Mayor Butch Lee. “Quality music, events and festivals, combined with expanding public access to our natural environment, and expanding youth sports; achieving these while using blighted property to entice and promote private investment for restaurants and commercial development — these are what this project means to Brandon.”
The theater was simultaneously bid with the construction of the six baseball fields for $19,377,822, Brown said.
Thrash Construction is managing both projects.
Installation of the amphitheater’s stage structural steel began Feb. 13. The concrete for the stage, northern bathrooms, concession stands and the VIP area are complete, according to Thrash Construction Project Manager Vincent Creel. The concrete work for the seating bowl will begin this week and should be completed in six months.
Lee said the amphitheater, which will seat 8,400, “provides our community a facility designed to be a high-quality, patron-oriented music venue, also suitable for festivals and sports events, and a unique outdoor entertainment experience unlike any other in central Mississippi. Secondly, it embodies the same elements studied in other music venues such as The Wharf at Orange Beach, the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and the recently opened Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, where somewhat “blighted” property has been utilized in a similar manner.
“The development of a positive, public asset from property with little commercial value has been demonstrated to lead to growth in new restaurants, hotels and commercial properties within the city.”
Southaven also has an amphitheater that seats 11,000.
The Brandon Amphitheater will be booked by Birmingham’s Red Mountain Entertainment, according to the city.
Capital City Beverages, Community Bank, Entergy and Merit Health are all sponsors of the venue, Brown said.
Brown said before construction of the ball fields and amphitheater, it was difficult to “make an argument (to hotels) that Brandon and Pearl were not in the same market.”
That is no longer the case, he said.
“What we’ve seen is more interest, more conversations, looking at the Brandon market trying to build hotels and restaurants,” Brown said. “People who go to a concert are going to want to stay right there by the amphitheater.”
Lee said he hopes the location and the accessibility of the amphitheater helps improve the quality of life for all Brandon residents.
The Brandon Amphitheater, located between one-half mile of Exits 54/56 of I-20, “is embedded within a natural, beautiful 250-acre park consisting of several lakes, a trail system and a new baseball park facility,” he said.
Slated to open in spring 2018, Lee said an Easter Sunday opening would be ideal so the community could celebrate with a sunrise service.
“We were looking for a sensible time to have a soft opening for the new facility in the spring of 2018 to allow our residents an opportunity to visit, tour and see the amenities associated with the amphitheater,” he said. “April 1, 2018, seemed to jump off the calendar as the target date to cease construction activities and open the facility to our community for viewing.”