America's New Bandstand?

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Pigeon Forge, Sevier County (WVLT) - Big-name country, gospel, or rock-n-roll, whatever's your favorite you just might find it in Pigeon Forge this summer, all outdoors, with some tickets costing only 20 bucks.

It's the beginning of what some are betting will be a new entertainment and building boom, in the county known for both.

“They were trying to find the right property in the right place and positioned right in the county,” says real estate broker Keith Widmer.

For the right price.

Which is why, for $12 million dollars, Pigeon Forge's former home to world famous bears and hares you can trust, is about to become, “One or two permanent theatres up there. A hotel, a museum, gift shops, all themed around Dick Clark,” Widmer says.

Yep, the Dick Clark, as in the soon-to-be Dick Clark's American Bandstand Music Complex of Pigeon Forge.

“The last month they've been trying to book big name entertainment that hasn't been in the market, such as Lee Ann Rimes, America, Clint Black,” says Widmer.

“We like to come into an area where we've had a presence already,” says Steve File, from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Believe it or Not, Bandstand’s folks are the same folks behind Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg.

So why not build in Gatlinburg?

“For something new to go in, something old has to come down,” File says.

Whereas, Pigeon Forge isn't landlocked. What Riptide, hopes will repeat though is synergy, spin-offs.

“Before we opened you saw new businesses come in, such as Hard Rock, TGI Friday's and others,” explains File.

Which in turn, feed off each other.

“With the Dick Clark name, that adds some credibility to that end of Pigeon Forge,” Widmer says.

Balancing growth on the other ends.

“A good barometer is to see what the timeshares are doing. They've all come in and they're all continuing to build and build,” says File.

Figuring the boom won't run out of gas anytime soon.

If anything, “It's interesting to see what the gas prices are gonna do to us,” says File. “Whether it'll take the people from Ohio and Indiana and say ‘hey, it's too far to drive to go to Florida, let's stop off and go to Gatlinburg.’”

The concerts will be behind the Boyd's Bear Country main building. The line-ups still being finalized, but the first billboard could go up within days.

Keep clicking on VolunteerTV.com for updates.


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