Mississippi Up For Tupelo Entertainment

The city of Tupelo is positioned to take advantage of a new state law designed to generate revenue by offering incentives to create entertainment districts.

The city’s tourism officials have long wanted a new entertainment venue, and now Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is offering his support.

Hosemann met Monday with city officials and tourism leaders to promote the state’s Entertainment District Act, which took effect in July.

The act allows a local government to create an entertainment district in which businesses that sell tickets can get tax breaks for new or renovated venues. The venue would depreciate in five years compared to the normal 40 years.

The participating businesses must add a $2 fee to their tickets for five years. The money goes to the state’s general fund.

Hosemann said he’d like to see Fairpark and the entire downtown Tupelo area become an entertainment district.

During the past year, the idea of a new downtown entertainment venue has been shopped around by various people and groups. Most ideas involve capitalizing on Tupelo being the birthplace of Elvis Presley.

At Monday’s meeting, BancorpSouth Arena Director Todd Hunt said he’d like to see a 1,000-2,000 seat venue. He put the price tag at $20 million to $100 million, depending on how it is finished.

Hosemann said he’d like to see a smaller venue with a $2 million price tag, with a larger one later. He said the idea would be a public acquisition of real estate, which would then be leased – a situation similar to the BancorpSouth Conference Center.

“I’ll support whatever you come up with,” Hosemann said. “Y’all have a history of being out in front. Don’t stop your dream early … Y’all have got the right idea and you know where you are heading. We just want to make sure we complement your efforts and do what you need.”