I-95 Entertainment Complex Sweet Music To Area Economy
Posted September 11, 2006 6:43 a.m. EDT
ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. — Six months before it is set to open, the Carolina Crossroads complex already is affecting the economy of Roanoke Rapids.
Construction on the nearly $22 million project is creating about 3,000 jobs. Once the complex is running, 3,100 jobs are expected.
Crews have completed the structure of the Randy Parton Theater, which will anchor the musical entertainment development, and are now working on exterior finishes and the interior.
The theater will reflect Parton's talent for design, from the layout of the 1,200-seat auditorium to lighting and sound to a mechanical stage, said Bill Corey, superintendent of the project for J.S. Clark Construction Co.
"Entertainers get on it, then come up to the stage level," he said.
Roanoke Rapids is financing construction of the Randy Parton Theater -- it's the first private project in North Carolina funded with taxpayer money. Parton will make lease payments to the city of about $500,000 a year until the theater is paid off.
Carolina Crossroads is already billing itself as the next Branson, Mo., and outdoor concerts at the complex off Interstate 95 already have drawn huge crowds.Country group Big and Rich attracted 28,000 people for a show in June. About 10,000 people sang along at a Christian music festival last month. Between 30,000 and 40,000 Hank Williams Jr. fans, known as "rowdy friends and redneck women," are expected at his concert with Gretchen Wilson in two weeks.
"I used to love the statement, 'build it and they will come.' And, basically, the concerts have been the tests," Corey said.
A four-lane parkway through the complex also is under construction, and work on an aquarium at the complex is expected to begin in November. Officials already are purchasing dolphins for the project.