Local News

New Randy Parton Theatre Contract Draws Criticism

Posted November 21, 2007

— The public is getting the first look at the new contract between the city of Roanoke Rapids and the Randy Parton Theatre. Some folks are already asking why the city is absorbing some of Parton's debt.

The city borrowed $21.5 million to build the 1,500-seat complex. Parton, brother of country music singer Dolly Parton, managed the theater, but it had trouble generating revenue.

Under the new management contract with Boston-based UNICCO, the city gets some money back from the theater, but also assumes some of the its debt.

“This was the only option we had,” Roanoke Rapids Mayor Drewery Beale said.

The city wiped clean a $475,000 debt Parton owed and took on $220,000 in unpaid theater expenses.

City leaders defend the contract's financial dealings by saying they used money from Parton's reserve fund to help pay those expenses.

“We're paying Randy Parton's bills with Randy Parton's money. That's the part people don't understand,” said Phyllis Lee, the city manager.

Councilmen John Baker and Carl Ferebee voted against the contract Tuesday night.

Speaking off camera Wednesday, Ferebee told WRAL's Beau Minnick that a concern of his was that Parton must be paid an annual artist fee of $250,000 for at least the next five years. If the theater closes, Parton still must be paid the fee.

The city manager said she is not concerned that the theater will close.

While the County Commission has no say about the theater, Commissioner J. Rives Manning is a city taxpayer and like many people, he is concerned about the deal.

“In Halifax County, when we make a contract, we live up to the contract,” he said.

Parton's original contract called for him to be paid $1.5 million a year to perform at the theater, plus a car and a house. Parton will continue to perform 36 engagements a year.


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  • denverbob26 Nov 23, 2007

    I always knew there was something in the water in Roanoke Rapids that kills brain cells and this contract proves it. The city council has nothing to say about what happens at the theatre but they own it. If I own something, I am the only one who has something to say about what happens with it. They need to drink bottled water and maybe they can regrow some brain cells

  • weasleyes Nov 23, 2007

    I was not aware that taxpayer money was involved. As rich as Dolly is, and if it was such a good investment, why didn't she put up the money???? This guy is a loser, riding on his sister's name (and other parts.)

  • outhouseman 2007 Nov 23, 2007

    Was the $475,000 used to pay off his house?

  • Deer Hunter Nov 22, 2007

    Why give him anything! If he can't pay his rent evict him.
    He can't disclose his financial info because of trade secrets?
    I don't want the secrets of a failing operation, so poor excuse.
    Where did the money go then? The tax payers deserve a complete State audit since this was public money being wasted. the attorney general should step in and make sure everything is right. This has become a total expensive mess for the poor taxpayers of this area. I hope our state officials are listening.

  • 68_polara Nov 22, 2007

    Car dealership? Come on... don't give them that much credit. ok.. a used car dealership maybe. Lesson learned: Don't let someone squander you hard earned taxes.

  • outhouseman 2007 Nov 21, 2007

    Just think,"it all started with the passing of a business card!!"

  • drnc Nov 21, 2007

    That building will be part of an outlet mall or car dealership in less than five years.

  • RAPTOR Nov 21, 2007

    I never heard of Randy parton until this project started.

  • wbearp Nov 21, 2007

    This is something that they NEVER should have done in the first place. Now they are throwing good money after bad into a black hole. RR needs to cut ties with the place and make the Partons pay up!

  • wralfan Nov 21, 2007

    "Randy's name is not all that big, Dolly would have made a bigger impression."SANDHILL

    And that's only from the waist up... ba-dum-dum!