CATEGORY: Alcorn County

AUTHOR: SUMMER

HED:Downs to head Corinth arena marketing

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH - A former Alliance Community Development director and native Alcorn Countian has returned to Corinth to become marketing director of Crossroads Arena.

Karen Downs, who began work Monday, actually never left Alcorn County. She had commuted to Tupelo to work as a consultant with Bath & Body Works in The Mall at Barnes Crossing since June 1997.

Crossroads Arena is the newly adopted trade name for the Corinth-Alcorn County Convention and Agri-Exposition Center.

Arena Manager Frank Cable said Downs was chosen after a two-month search.

"I wanted someone who would be familiar with the local folks and the local needs," Cable said. "That was more important than going national and finding someone with experience in the entertainment industry."

Downs, 29, was the unanimous choice of the arena board, he said.

"I'm happy to be back in Corinth and to have been selected to be the marketing director of the Crossroads Arena," Downs said Tuesday. "I know it will be a lot of hard work, but I'm willing to give it all I've got to make this a great success for our community."

The steel frame on the $6 million facility is taking shape and the entire building is expected to be under roof by the end of this week. The joint city-county project is expected to open in October 1999.

When completed, the arena will seat up to 10,000 people with meeting and convention rooms that will accommodate 700 or more people.

Marketing duties

As marketing director of the arena, Downs will be responsible for recruiting state, regional and national conventions, corporate meetings and trade shows to the multipurpose facility and will coordinate these events with local hotels and restaurants.

She will be in charge of all advertising, public relations, group sales, sponsorships and promotions of the facility. She will assist Cable in marketing the multipurpose building to promoters, agents, artists and other prospective clients and in marketing all shows to potential ticket purchasers.

"We will have many events lined up in the first year of operation to attract all ages," Downs said. "We have plans to host concerts, a county fair, rodeos, horse shows, craft shows, company picnics, local festivals, boat shows, gun/knife shows, car shows, graduations, conventions and many other events."

Part of her duties will involve recruiting sponsors.

"We will need sponsors for the outdoor sign and for signs which will be hung inside the arena," she said. She will also look for sponsors to help build several barns for horses and other livestock. The sponsors will have access to these buildings and can create their own VIP room to entertain customers or friends during events, Downs said.

"This facility will be an asset to the community," Downs said. "Locals will have more to do. It will help existing businesses, attract new businesses, generate sales tax and help generate property taxes (that) will help the city and county. We want everyone to feel a sense of pride and ownership in helping us to promote it."

Background

A graduate of Alcorn Central High School, Downs received a bachelor of science degree in marketing from the University of Alabama.

She began work with the Alliance as an administrative assistant in May 1993 and later served as secretary/office manager. She was promoted to director of the Community Development Association, an agency reorganized from the old chamber of commerce.

Downs' experience includes work with government agencies, tourism promotion and industrial development. She helped coordinate such community activities as the Roscoe Turner Balloon Race and the Hog Wild in Corinth Barbecue.

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