Randy Parton Theatre Under New Management
Posted November 20, 2007 9:02 p.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2007 4:41 p.m. EST
Roanoke Rapids, N.C. — The Roanoke Rapids City Council voted Tuesday night to hire a new management company for the Randy Parton Theatre.
The city borrowed $21.5 million to build the 1,500-seat complex, which Parton managed.
Some people, like City Councilman Jon Baker, have criticized the city for not being open with the public about the theater's dealing.
Baker released the following statement Nov. 16: “Full disclosure and transparency is what this community needs. The people have a right to know."
“The initial deal with Randy, the city and the private developer was done in secret,” Don Carrington, with the Carolina Journal 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. His salary was to be based on revenue from ticket sales and merchandise.
Generating revenue has been a problem for the theater. The city manager said there are nights when attendance doesn't reach the break-even point.
The new management company, Boston-based UNICCO, will begin booking acts to run in conjunction with Parton’s “Little Bit of Life” and “Carolina Christmas” shows. “
"I think their plans for the theater will only strengthen its presence and help attract even more tourists and development to the city,” Roanoke Rapids Mayor Drewery Beale said.
“The public’s response to our ‘Little Bit of Life’ show has been positive. This is an exciting step. I look forward to working with the city and the new management team to continue to grow the theater as a world-class entertainment destination,” said Parton.
Parton will continue to perform 36 engagements a year at the theater. His annual salary was cut to $250,000.
The city also wiped clean a $475,000 debt Parton owed as a good-faith payment. Roanoke Rapids kept more than $500,000 remaining from Parton's $3 million reserve fund.
“The contract between the city and UNICCO will also be public record with a goal of operating the theater as efficiently as possible to pay down the debt service at a faster rate,” said Mayor Pro-tem Reggie Baird.
Baker and Councilman Carl Ferebee voted against hiring new management for the theater.
Baker told WRAL he voted against it because he still had a lot of concerns and questions that were not answered. He left the meeting directly after the vote.