MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - The Convention Center sits in the heart of Myrtle Beach at the corner of Oak Street and 21st Ave. N., but just west of the property lies about 40 acres of empty green space. It could be converted to an amphitheater that can hold thousands of people. The city bought the property in 2005 with the intention of expansion.
"We're not going to put permanent seats in the flat space. We're going to have seats that we can take in and out that will allow us to use the flat space for other types of events," explains Paul Edwards, MB Convention Center General Manager.
Potential activities for the venue include racing events, marathon start/finish line, and concerts. Its location puts it less than a mile from hotels along Ocean Boulevard. "It'll be close enough for people if they're going to come to a concert rather than get in traffic, they can walk here and walk back," Edwards adds.
If all goes according to plan, a road connecting the property with Grissom Parkway and Oak Street will be built. Edwards says early estimates show the $5.4 million expansion would turn a profit in the first year.
"We're looking at doing approximately 60 events there the first year. About 30 to 35% of those will be concerts which are the big ticket items. That business will probably be subcontracted to a management group that handles concerts. The Convention Center will hold onto certain parts of it," he says.
As for the costs, it would be paid for by the Tourism Development Initiative.
Myrtle Beach City Councilman Phil Render reviewed plans for the expansion. "We're really excited about the possibilities, and no property tax revenue will be dedicated towards that."
Edwards adds there's a built in audience for an amphitheater since people already travel to the ones in Charlotte and Raleigh.
"We've also got to capture the tourists that are already here, and we've got to bring in some new ones," says Edwards. "We think the community is waiting for this to happen, and also another added benefit will be jobs that it creates. They'll be temporary jobs in the evenings and weekends and things like that, but it is work. And that's what this county needs right now."