Meridian Star

Local News

September 4, 2007

City donates $50,000 to proposed state arts and entertainment project

A $50,000 donation from the city of Meridian has marked the first steps toward establishing a state Hall of Fame Museum in downtown Meridian.

Meridian businessman Tommy Dulaney made the request at Tuesday’s meeting of the Meridian City Council. Dulaney is president of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Board.

“The (Mississippi) Legislature approved the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center project in 2001 and designated Meridian as the location,” Dulaney said. “We’ve got to get something started on it, or we stand the chance of losing it.”

Plans call for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center to be built at Bonita Lakes. Estimated cost for the first phase of the project is about $50 million. The master plan includes a conference center and hall of fame, an amphitheater and a special events pavilion. Phase II of the master plan includes a performing arts center, a band shell and an artist-in-residency colony, totaling $19.4 million.

The center’s board voted several months ago to look at a downtown site for the Hall of Fame Museum. The old S.H. Kress Co. building is under consideration as a location.

“Because the MSU Riley Center is having such success, we thought it would be better to have the museum next to it,” Dulaney said. “We still want to have the amphitheater and other features out at Bonita Lakes.”

The city owns the Kress building. Dulaney said the center’s board is “in favorable discussions with the city” about the building.

The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment board had planned to fund the project with about one-third of the money coming from the state, one-third from federal sources and the other third from local and private contributions, including a possible 2 percent food and beverage tax.

This past spring the Legislature approved $4 million for the proposed Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, but the state money is contingent on $8 million in private funds being raised for the project.

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