Rick Wilson, the local commercial real estate developer who purchased the site where the Majestic Hotel once sat in downtown Hot Springs in July, spoke to the Downtown Association of Hot Springs Tuesday morning about more details on his planned outdoor amphitheater being constructed on the site.
When Wilson's son came to him a year and a half ago with the idea to construct an amphitheater similar to the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, Arkansas, Wilson thought it to be a great idea that would serve as a "driver" for Hot Springs. Wilson set out to make this vision come to life on the site of where the Majestic Hotel once sat before burning down in 2014.
Their first operator of choice for this amphitheater was the Walton Arts Center — the same operator of the Rogers amphitheater that inspired them. Luckily, Wilson said The Walton Arts Center chose them, too.
"It's not inked, and worse things can happen, but we don't feel like we're going to have any issues at this point, which is why I've made the statements that I've made: The operator will be the Walton Arts Center," he said.
Compared to the Arkansas Music Pavilion, which holds a capacity of over 11,000, the amphitheater here is expected to hold a little less than half of their capacity at 5,000.
"This will be what they refer to in the industry as a medium capacity amphitheater," Wilson said. "So there are artists who prefer, like all artists they want to appear where they can sellout, so sellout depends on the capacity."
Some artists who may look to sellout at a 5,000-person capacity, Wilson said, include Luke Combs, Jason Aldean, Mariah Carey, Miranda Lambert, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Justin Timberlake or Machine Gun Kelly.
However, talks of possible acts to come aside, Wilson said the architects and engineers are really just now beginning. The following is an estimated timeline he gave for the project:
Benefits to Hot Springs
"This very likely will spur a redevelopment for Hot Springs, most especially the downtown area," Wilson said. "I think a couple of blocks of Park Avenue will receive an adrenaline shot of redevelopment, rejuvenation to a great degree."
Wilson said 30-40 events* a year are going to put a "sizable amount of people downtown that are not downtown today." He added that he thinks redevelopment and expansion will become necessary to hotels and restaurants, as well as downtown storeowners expanding their hours.
Additionally, Wilson said the project will bring in about 20-35 full-time jobs, and 80 part-time jobs.
*“Events” was changed from “venues.”