Hospitality officials in Brown County on Thursday announced plans for a $10.2 million performing arts center containing a 2,000-seat indoor music venue.
The county-owned Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center, planned near Nashville, is expected to host concerts in multiple music genres, according to the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Brown County Convention and Visitors Commission.
“From rock and blues to country, jazz, bluegrass, and even pop, the plan is to work with a professional booking agency to attract big-name acts that will appeal to a vast audience,” the hospitality groups said in a written statement. “The venue also could have the potential for other draws such as community functions, large corporate presentations, and more.”
The venue, if approved, would be paid off over 30 years with an annual bond payment of $560,000. The payments will come from a county innkeepers tax, a 5-percent tax on room and cabin rentals the county has been collecting since 1986. The tax brought in $813,000 in 2016.
Organizers said the venue could open as soon as spring 2019 if it receives approval from several town, county and community organizations and commissions.
Officials did not announce a potential site, but the Brown County Democrat reported that farmer Chuck Snyder has reached an agreement with the Brown County Convention and Visitors Commission to sell nearly 14 acres of land next to the Salt Creek Plaza shopping area for $2 million.
The land deal hinges on the venue’s approval, the newspaper said.
Hospitality officials in Brown County have expressed a desire for a new concert venue ever since the Little Nashville Opry burned down in 2009. The 2,000-seat venue hosted some of the biggest names in country music over a 25-year period.
A businessman bought the Little Opry site at a 2012 tax sale with plans to rebuild the venue, but he has yet to break ground.
Officials say the venues could co-exist if both are developed.
“We believe that the proposed Maple Leaf venue holds great potential for positive economic impact on the community,” said Jane Ellis, executive director of the Brown County CVB, in written comments. “Not only will it help to enhance Brown County as a stronger regional draw and destination to visit; but in the end, our hopes are that it will make it a better place to live and work as well.”