Local News

Roanoke Rapids Theatre to reopen as Royal Palace Theatre

Posted September 11, 2012

— Roanoke Rapids' troubled theater will reopen Wednesday under a new name and with a new attraction – Internet sweepstakes.

City leaders last month approved a deal to lease the 1,500-seat Roanoke Rapids Theatre to Arkansas-based HSV Entertainment, which has renamed the venue Royal Palace Theatre.

It opens to the public at 6 p.m. Wednesday and includes a lineup of celebrity entertainment as well as 24-hour electronic gambling.

The first show, with country music singer Chris Young, is scheduled for Oct. 11. Other performances include Lorrie Morgan on Oct. 12 and Clarence Carter and Percy Sledge on Oct. 27.

Patrick Vota, with HSV, says the firm chose Roanoke Rapids after a nationwide search for a venue that would welcome tourists and local residents with "an integrated formula for sweepstakes technology and live entertainment."

"We could not have asked for a better scenario for this business model," Vota said. "We believe that, not only will travelers stop and have some fun at the Palace, they will eat and stay in this area as well. It's a win-win for everybody."

That's welcome news for the city, which borrowed $21.5 million in 2005 to build the theater, which initially bore the name of country singer Randy Parton, along Interstate 95 in an effort to attract tourists and help boost the economy.

But with a combination of low ticket sales, management and name changes and attempts to sell the facility, the city never generated enough money to pay off its loan.

That forced city leaders to increase the local sales tax rate. Residents are now paying nearly $2 million a year.

"This is a life-changing piece of real estate for our city, and we are excited to see a group of entrepreneurs treat it like the catalyst for economic development that we know it can be," Roanoke Rapids Mayor Emery Doughtie said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

12 Comments

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  • yoowho Sep 12, 4:35 p.m.

    Great, just what these people need. "Sweepstakes" is basically an ignorance tax on those who can least afford it. They will suck the last few dimes out of the people in RR because they are going to be the suckers going there.

  • north 501 Sep 11, 7:03 p.m.

    You can tell the city is desperate. I doubt many people will leave I-95 for Internet gambling but the locals will probably keep it busy. Clarence Carter! Clarence Carter! Clarence Carter!

  • infaith4him Sep 11, 6:29 p.m.

    Ticket sales are still going to be low if they don't go to all extremes and advertise the performers. They can't depend on word-of-mouth to sell tickets which is what most of Nash/Edgecombe/Halifax counties do!
    I would love to see this theatre do well but I'm not holding my breath!

  • Obamacare again Sep 11, 6:22 p.m.

    I'm surprised no one has torched this thing yet for the insurance payout.

  • Qwerty27807 Sep 11, 6:13 p.m.

    Hey, why not make it an indoor flea market next?

  • americaneel Sep 11, 5:40 p.m.

    Royal Palace Theatre = Fancy name for gambling casino. Maybe they can bring back Randy Parton as a headliner

  • bdaughtry2 Sep 11, 5:34 p.m.

    The only way Roanoke Rapids will ever pay for this is to turn it into a house of prostitution.

  • weakened back Sep 11, 5:25 p.m.

    good place to find people with outstanding warrants

  • SirWired Sep 11, 5:23 p.m.

    Wow... could this saga get any more pathetic and trashy? They are going to lease it to one of those uber-cheesy "Sweepstakes" places?

    I suppose they had to do SOMETHING with this white elephant. I can only imagine what they were thinking when they built that place to begin with.

  • jandsdeacon Sep 11, 5:09 p.m.

    A good waste of the theatre but hey, it is roanoke rapids.

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