City leaders eye performing arts center, amphitheater near convention center

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Arts supporters have fought for a performing art center in Myrtle Beach for more than a decade.

Back in 2013, city leaders put the issue to a vote and a majority of residents approved the purchase of $10 million in bonds to get the center built.

Since then, no money has been spent and no plans have been officially adopted. However, with a recent survey indicating such a center is needed to increase tourism goals, it’s become more of a priority for city leaders.

The study suggested such a facility wouldn’t just help locals, but would also attract visitors.

“A lot of people see value in a performing arts center, an out-door amphitheater and larger music events like the country music festival,” said Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

After a series of starts and stops, plans for a performing arts center that could be converted to an amphitheater are taking shape.

“Originally the city and the performance art people picked the old Ripley’s center, and then there was the idea that it should be attached it to the Convention Center,” said Paul Edwards, the GM of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Edwards wants to move forward with a dual use facility, inspired by one in use in Pittsburgh, PA.

“We visited that facility, Stage AE, and they have a dual concept indoor performance and outdoor amphitheater,” said Edwards. “We’ve kind of taken that idea and run with it and presented it to the performing arts committee and the city.”

Plans would super size Stage AE, creating an indoor space that seats 500 and an outdoor area that could host 16,000 or more.

“We’ve got the acreage to increase that to more than 20,000,” said Edwards.

Edwards says the plan alleviates parking concerns by being in walking distance to existing lots and could potentially attract big name bands that may not otherwise stop in Myrtle Beach.

“We could do a Wednesday, Thursday concert and we can get those same large groups that people enjoy seeing on their way to Florida or New York and catch us in between,” said Edwards.

Edwards says the city has been working on a proposal for interested architects to bid on. City council will take up the issue at its budget retreat next month. If approved, the project could get underway as early as this fall.

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