The concert hall would be the centerpiece of a 60-acre complex, seat 1,500 people indoors and as many as 5,000 on outdoor lawn space with views of the stage.
Those backing the project, unveiled Thursday, say it would attract top-tier artists like
It also would boost the island's economy, eventually bringing in more money than the RBC Heritage Presented by
But it would cost money, too.
Early estimates show the complex could cost between
Once built, it might never become entirely self-sufficient, group members said.
"We have a chance to do major things here, but it's not going to fly without a strong public-private collaboration," said Community Vision president
Group members say the theater would be different than the struggling
The concert hall would host more musical performances and star lecturers, and few
It would nourish what they call the public desire for a thriving arts scene on the island.
Some town officials who support the arts are skeptical.
"Nothing would make me happier than having an arts facility like they describe," Mayor
BIGGER VENUE NEEDED?
Community Vision members contend the arts' success on the island depends largely on venue size.
"I've seen what can happen to a small town with a big arts vision," group member
Vision members say the proposed concert hall's capacity would draw famous acts that wouldn't perform at the
Organizers project 212,000 attendees in the theater's first year. By the third year, there would be more than 250,000, they say.
"If you program it (with star acts), they will come," Castro said, adding that there are
Along with the hall, the proposed complex would have 4,000 grass and 500 paved parking spaces, a botanical garden and room for expansion.
Though nothing is definite, the group has some locations in mind for the amphitheater. Options include about 105 acres of town-owned land on the Planter's Row golf course at
The top choice is Honey Horn, with its sprawling grass fields on the north end of the island, members said.
For Laughlin, Honey Horn would be a "nonstarter."
"I think it's a great asset as it is," he said, referring to the site's open green space.
Attempts Friday to reach
Group members suggested several ways to pay for the venture.
Graver, the group's president, mentioned the proposed 1 percent sales tax being discussed by
Another option is to raise money by selling bonds or through a future tax referendum.
Once built, it would receive money for maintenance and other needs through annual accommodations-tax funding from the town, member
"We see no ongoing need for dramatic continued public support," Graver said. "We're not looking for major handouts."
Laughlin said there is no way to pay for construction without voter support, possibly by a tax.
After it's built, upkeep for seating, lighting, stage and sound equipment could be expensive for the public. "That might be something you could overcome if you had a high level of assurance that (the amphitheater) would be used most of the time and generate the revenue they anticipate," he said. "I've never been convinced of that."
Gibson argued that the amphitheater's benefits would outweigh the public dollars spent.
He anticipates it would be more profitable in its second year than the Heritage and deliver the island economy more than
WHAT ABOUT THE ARTS CENTER?
Graver acknowledged the existing arts center is the "elephant in the room."
A recent study commissioned by the town called for
It might be difficult to convince
"What we're proposing is not going to happen if there's not some resolution to the arts center ... even if it means bulldozing it," Graver said. "In my amateur opinion, it should become a local theater, ... but something must be done."
Attempts Thursday and Friday to reach arts center president and CEO
Graver and others maintain that their project is larger than the center, more focused and will be run more efficiently.
"All endeavors are fraught with troubles," he said. "But if we do nothing, then things will continue to slide."
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