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Myrtle Beach hoping to revive performing arts center project, adds amphitheater to plans

City officials are planning to build a performing arts center and amphitheater near the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. (Myrtle Beach Convention Center Facebook page) City officials are planning to build a performing arts center and amphitheater near the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. (Myrtle Beach Convention Center Facebook page)
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The city of Myrtle Beach is hoping to soon move forward with plans to build a performing arts center by the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and has added the construction of an amphitheater to the project.

The project has been on the city's back burner for the last few years, as other projects have taken priority and the $10 million cost estimate was too much to take on.

The original plan was to build the PAC onto the convention center as an addition. Then, the city bought the property beside the new Myrtle Beach Sports Center, about 17 acres, as the idea to build a dual PAC-amphitheater took hold.

At the annual Downtown Redevelopment Corporation planning meeting, Myrtle Beach's city manager said the performing arts center would probably be prioritized for the 2017 fiscal year.

Paul Edwards, general manager of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, said there aren't any renderings or sketches just yet because there's no set-in-stone look the city is going for. The idea is to get unique designs from architects that match the concept.

"What the city is hoping to do is put out an RFP for a design build by the end of the month, by the end of March," Edwards said. "From that point, we would expect the architects and builders to submit their ideas back to the city, probably after about a 30-day time period. And from there the city would have a committee who goes over the plans and decides which one they like the best based on the budget and the concept they've presented. And then from that, we would come up with a start period."

Combining both the PAC and the amphitheater, he said, will fit Myrtle Beach's needs. The operating budget of the PAC, if built alone, was foreseen as an issue.

"Somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 deficit operating-wise each year," Edwards said.

The amphitheater would bring in revenue, which he said would cancel out that deficit. It also has the potential to bring in large-scale events year-round.

"During the non-concert time period such as November to April, we could cover the outdoor area with clay or sand and put on outdoor events," Edwards said. "Motocross, monster trucks, rodeos things like that."

During the summer, it would offer the possibility to propel Myrtle Beach onto the tours of major headliners.

"We're hoping to have our seating capacity between 15,000 and 20,000," Edwards said.

Myrtle Beach is geographically perfectly situated to reap the benefits of young people looking to jam, according to Edwards.

"With the millennials now, they'll drive 100 miles to get to a concert and based on where we are, we can draw from two or three states away," he said.

Parking is a potential problem area, but Edwards said officials hope it won't prove an issue.

He said they think people staying in hotels could walk to concert events. Within a one-mile radius of the site, there are plenty of spaces between the convention center, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans ballpark, Doug Shaw Stadium and businesses that can rent out spaces.

Edwards said, ideally, he would love to see the project approved, with construction beginning late summer and the project finished in time for the convention center's 50th anniversary in late 2017.

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