As BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center executive director Todd Hunt prepares to retire at the end of June, we look at the success of the arena and what Hunt has brought to Tupelo in the last 13 years.
Since 2007, the Arena has generated more than $100 million in economic impact with its concerts, events and meetings. Acts like Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Amy Grant, Reba McIntire and Alan Jackson have repeatedly made Tupelo part of their tours, and as reported by Daily Journal business editor Dennis Seid, the arena expansion is ahead of schedule, with the conference center work likely to be finished at the end of the month – nearly 18 months ahead of schedule.
Coliseum Commission Chairman Scott Reed said that Hunt is “arguably the best thing that’s ever happened to the Arena,” and that his replacement has large shoes to fill.
Which brings us to this week’s vote by the City Council.
In a work session last week, Mayor Jason Shelton proposed to change the hiring process to have the Coliseum Commission recommend a candidate, then he would formally appoint someone as director with the council voting to approve or reject the nominee. Shelton said this would update the ordinance to conform with the city’s current form of government.
Opponents to the proposal said this would bring politics to the arena, and Reed said he felt it would make it more difficult to attract and hire top management.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the council voted 4-3 to reject the ordinance change. We feel this was the right call, as the mayor and City Council have already appointed most of the nine-member board. This group should have the ability to make this decision for the Arena.
When asked why they voted to reject the change, Ward 3 Councilman Travis Beard and Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis shared similar opinions that there’s no reason to change something that has been successful.
We agree with this and feel the commission will make the best decision to help the BancorpSouth Arena move forward and continue its success for Tupelo.