High Hopes for Arts and Entertainment Center

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Meridian, Miss. The old Hotel Meridian was torn down to make room for what many consider to be the future of downtown Meridian, the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.

It will grab every drivers eye coming over the 22nd Avenue bridge in downtown Meridian and eventually will hopefully grab the eye of everyone in the state of Mississippi and beyond. Initial legislation on the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center started back in 1998 and passed in 2001. There have been some bumps along the way, but ultimately the site for the new center ended up in downtown Meridian, near the MSU Riley Center.

"I mean, it's still going to pay homage to all the iconic arts and entertainment people out of the state of Mississippi and the upcoming ones," MAEC Executive Director Marty Gamblin promises. "But we want it to be an experience that's going to be a ever changing museum, so that people don't come one time and say okay I've seen that one, let's check that one off. We want to have experiences or interactive experiences there for all ages."

Gamblin says based on studies conducted so far, there is no other facility like this particular one. While there is the educational component of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, there is also the business aspect. Leaders believe it will not only lead to more economic growth in the downtown Meridian area, but the state of Mississippi as a whole. A chance to show what Mississippi is truly made of.

"Great talent that's come from Mississippi," MAEC Board President Tommy Dulaney says. "And we need to let the world know, these people were produced in Mississippi. You know, we're last in a lot of things, but we are first in things like artistic talent."

The cost of the new Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center is estimated to be about $44 million. It will be 58,500 square feet and is set to open sometime in 2017.