The 200-capacity club, shown in a rendering, is part of arena renovations. (Courtesy BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center)

BancorpSouth’s new 12-year deal keeps name on Tupelo arena and conference center

The naming-rights extension for BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center covers a new VIP hospitality space at the arena, said Todd Hunt, executive director of the Tupelo, Miss., facility.

In October, officials broke ground on $15 million in upgrades to the 26-year-old complex, which includes the new club, updated restrooms and an additional 15,000 square feet of meeting space in the conference center, plus a total makeover of the existing building. 

BancorpSouth, whose headquarters are in Tupelo, recently signed a 12-year, $4.25 million extension to keep its name on the complex and brand the new 200-capacity club. The VIP space, part of arena renovations to be completed in late 2020, does not have views to the arena floor, but it will have an outdoor patio, Hunt said.

The lounge, named the BancorpSouth Club, replaces an old box office and outdoor space leading up to the ticket windows. 

The construction will create an interior connection between the arena and conference center, which sit 100 feet apart, Hunt said. The arena opened in 1993, followed by the conference center in 2006.

“The conference center was built and operated by a Hilton Garden Inn that’s also in our parking lot, and the hotel decided they wanted to get out of the conference business,” he said. “We stepped up and took it over and it just made sense to connect it to the arena so we could have everything under one roof.”

The conference center work, including the connector structure, should be completed by mid-2021.

Ground was broken in late October, but a visit by President Donald Trump for a rally Nov. 1 resulted in a 10-day delay. “It put us behind schedule and now we’re trying to get back in the swing of things,” Hunt said.

The project is funded by bonds issued by the city, he said. 

The primary designer is local firm McCarty Architects, teaming with consultant David Gruesel, founding principal of Convergence Design in Kansas City. Gruesel spent about 14 years at Populous and served as lead designer for PNC Park and Minute Maid Park, a pair of Major League Baseball stadiums.

Apart from the upgrades, BancorpSouth Arena is busy booking concerts in addition to some college basketball and club-level college hockey. In a smaller market, the venue already has five major shows scheduled for next year: Miranda Lambert (Jan. 16), Jason Aldean (March 7), Lynyrd Skynyrd (March 20), Kane Brown (April 23) and Alison Krauss (June 4). 

“When a venue in Tupelo, Miss., can get three holds deep on weekends, six to nine months out, that speaks to the strength of the industry as a whole,” Hunt said.