Deal may revive Eufaula's Mega Star complex

Friday, June 20th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ They haven't booked Reba McEntire or Toby Keith yet, but promoters hope to hold an event in the Mega Star Amphitheater by July 4.

A bankruptcy court in Oklahoma City approved a deal Thursday that's expected to bring major concerts to the dormant amphitheater in Eufaula. Eufaula Mayor Dean Smith needs to sign off on the deal on behalf of the Eufaula Industrial Authority before it is final.

The amphitheater has never been used and the property has been part of bankruptcy proceedings for several years. The Eufaula City Council has approved a lease agreement with Dale Rankin, who wants to promote concerts on the property.

The deal requires the approval of the authority as well as Rankin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and attorneys for the bond trustees and Bank One in Oklahoma City.

Construction of the $5 million, 28,000-seat Mega Star Amphitheater project stopped in 1995, leaving hundreds of investors and contractors in the lurch.

Former Eufaula Mayor Joe Johnson resigned after he was found guilty in 1998 of 10 charges resulting from the project's failure.

The Mega Star deal requires Rankin to spend at least $200,000 on the amphitheater to bring it to a safe and usable condition. Water, sewer and electricity are already in place at the amphitheater, according to Smith.

Rankin must hold two shows this year and four major shows next year on holiday weekends and during Whole Hawg Days in Eufaula, which is the last weekend in July. The holidays are Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

No seating is in place, so any concerts held soon would likely consist of festival seating with blankets or lawn chairs.

The two-year deal calls for Rankin to pay a user fee of five percent of gross gate receipts to the bond trustee after credit for capital improvements during the first year. The fee rises to 10 percent of the gross gate receipts during the second year.

The city of Eufaula will not receive any direct income from concerts, but Smith is hopeful it could benefit by increasing the number of visitors to the city.

``What we're looking for is an increase in sales tax collections and increased activity on the lake,'' he said.

``I'm optimistic,'' Smith said. ``We have a real good lease agreement and we need to see how much activity can be centered over there. We think this amphitheater, in a small way, can do what is was originally built for.''

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