Local News

Attendance Low at Parton Theater, City Officials Say

Posted October 25, 2007

Roanoke Rapids officials say attendance figures at the newly opened Randy Parton Theatre are less than they expected on their $21 million investment.

Theater officials won't release the numbers, but say it is too early to worry about attendance for the facility, which opened three months ago.

"You have your influx of 'Ooh, it's new, let's go,' and then, after that, it takes two to three years for any business to grow its leg," said Janis O'Neill, national sales manager for the theater.

She stresses patience but also acknowledges empty space surrounding the theater as a factor in low attendance numbers.

Unlike other attractions, she said, the theater has no other surrounding businesses in which patrons can go for shopping or dining.

But officials for Carolina Crossroads – an entertainment hub that will feature live entertainment, retail shops and other prospective attractions – maintains the area won't be like that for long.

As part of a five-year plan, about 300,000 square feet of outlet retail stores and 20,000 square feet of specialty shops will join a hotel and restaurants in the theater's back yard.

City officials took a financial risk on the theater, borrowing $21.5 million to build the 1,500-seat complex. They also signed an agreement with the theater's namesake, Randy Parton, for a $1.5 million-per-year artist fee to perform at and run the complex.

They say they expect attendance figures at the theater to jump soon.

But Carolina Crossroads representatives say that despite low attendance numbers, the theater is having a positive impact on the area.

For example, three years ago, land in the area sold for about $1,500 an acre. It now sells for about $500,000.


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  • nomorenc Oct 27, 2007

    Imagine that, the theatre is falling flat on its face. Did anyone else see that coming. I would never go to anything held in the foul air in Roanoke Rapids. The smell alone is enough to make you vomit

  • richard2 Oct 27, 2007

    Keep us taxpayers informed of this investment, it sound too good to be true.

  • whatusay Oct 27, 2007

    gnew46..there should have been lots more advertising on this theater. I live in Wilson NC and have not seen any mailing brochures, newspaper ads, nor TV ads. It might help if they did a better job on the advertising side of this venture. To build a theater and try to keep it a secret does not help, unless there is more to be gained for it to go bankrupt and let somone buy it for pennies on the dollar...um...

  • whatusay Oct 27, 2007

    wdk05...you say.."Rome wasn't built in a day", but Rome burned down in a day.

  • seenenuf Oct 26, 2007

    This might work...eventually. But I wouldn't walk across the street to see Randy Parton free.

  • Karmageddon Oct 26, 2007

    "If you build it they will come"

    Those people evidently watched Field of Dreams too many times

  • shine Oct 26, 2007

    "Land sells for $500,000" ..... Well if this thing continues to lose altitude...... land will only bring what someone is willing to pay for it... including a defunct amphitheater...

    The first mistake anyone made was letting a no - name, one song, riding on his sisters coat tails, person........ and paying him a million dollars a year........... for an "artist" fee...... What "artist"????????

  • dianadarling Oct 26, 2007

    I wouldn't put my money up for it.

  • PatMcGroine Oct 26, 2007

    Let's see -- put an entertainer no one has heard of, in a venue in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, the big bucks will be rolling in any minute!

    What a joke -- and taxpayer's footing the bill. If it was such a good idea, private funds would have been available.

  • haggis basher Oct 26, 2007

    It does look very strange sitting by the side of I95 all by itself......They are building some hotels beside it and no doubt the usual I95 fast food etc places will follow but I really would like to see the business case for this project. I think you would need top acts every week to make it pay.....