Joplin's City Council tonight gave final approval to donate Memorial Hall's parking lot to a non-profit organization, called Connect2Culture. The organization plans on raising private funds to build a multi-million dollar arts and entertainment center on that land.
Clifford Wert stands on that parking lot, during our interview with him, believing in a certain spark.
"We want this to be a part, not the total solution, but it's a part of the solution, for Joplin so that we can take ourselves from 50,000 to 55,000 to 60,000 (speaking of Joplin's current and future populations). So we can grow our economic base," says Wert.
Wert, President of Connect2Culture in Joplin, wants to use Memorial Hall's entire parking lot for a new permanent arts and entertainment center.
"Obviously, if we had a piece of land that was not a parking lot that we could built it on, that might be better," says Joplin City Councilman Ryan Stanley.
But Stanley says he still supports the idea of the new A&E center on Memorial Hall's parking lot.
"18 hundred to 2,000 capacity outdoor amphitheater festival plaza," says Wert."
"Spiva will be housed there," says Stanley.
"Pro Musica. Heartland Opera. Midwest Regional Ballet," says Wert.
West says nearby businesses have already pledged to cover what parking spaces the proposed A&E center would eliminate.
"We have written letters of support for parking. Joplin Schools, Empire District Electric. Jasper County commissioners. Pinnacle Bank. We have identified well over one thousand parking spaces, all within one block of this (Memorial Hall parking lot) exact location. By the way, those letters specifically address both Joplin arts and entertainment center and Memorial Hall," says Wert.
Wert says Connect2Culture plans to reach out to local financial donors in order to raise $14 million for this project.
Many events, such as rodeos, circuses, and wrestling matches, will continue at Memorial Hall. City officials say the proposed new arts and entertainment center will only compliment, not hurt, Memorial Hall's business.
Drilling samples still need to be done on Memorial Hall's parking lot.
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