By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
After drawing more than 15,000 fans for the inaugural Rock the South concert festival last year, Cullman showed it has the potential to become a destination for musical acts. Now, local entrepreneur Bethany Seidel wants to prove it.
Seidel hopes to build a large-scale, live music venue in Cullman with hopes to draw regional and local music talent to the city on a regular basis.
She plans to purchase a 10-acre property just off Hwy. 157 near Interstate 65, behind the Waffle House restaurant, if the city approves a request to rezone the lot as an Entertainment District (E-1).
Seidel is prepping architectural drawings for an indoor-outdoor multi-use facility with two music stages. The main stage will be outdoors and seat between 1,000-1,500 people, while the smaller indoor venue will seat approximately 500 people. Potential acts would run the gamut from country to indie rock, and Seidel hopes to bring in at least one or two major concerts per year as well.
“I love all genres, but would probably bring in southern rock, country and rock to start with,” she said. “I’d be focusing on those genres, but I’m open to bringing in acts that are tremendously talented across the board. If there’s a demand for a certain genre, I’ll work to bring it to Cullman.”
The facility will also feature a full bar, tap room and brewery, which is why the E-1 designation is required. The city’s current alcohol ordinance only allows for restaurants to serve alcohol on-premises, unless the business is within an Entertainment District.
“We’ll specialize in wine and craft beer, and really want to serve our patrons with some specialized products,” Seidel said. “My mission is to do this in a tasteful way and respect the people of Cullman.”
If the zoning request is approved, the lot would be the second Entertainment District in the city. The first, a 105-acre section just off Interstate 65 behind Smith Farms, was created a little over a year ago. That property is currently for sale.
Seidel hopes to break ground as soon as possible and have the venue open for business by the end of the year.
“My goal is to bring entertainment to Cullman in a tasteful way. I believe Cullman is on the verge of increasing its population, and bringing in new businesses,” she said. “I’ve been so impressed with some of the industries they’ve brought in, just in the past few years. But I’ve always wondered why we don’t have more entertainment? So I’ve decided to be proactive and figure out the things I go outside of Cullman for, and bring them here.”
Seidel prides herself on being a lover of the arts and community in all facets, and said she will draw on her experience as a long-time music fan to create a venue that is a unique “fit” for Cullman.
“I’m from the Pacific northwest, but I’ve lived here for 14 years,” she said. “My children go to school here and I love this community. This facility will also be opened up and available for charities and fundraisers, and we’ll hold children’s concerts and all ages concerts, as well.”
Seidel cited the recent success of last year’s Rock the South, which the city is teaming up with country star Sara Evans to reboot as an annual event later this year, as proof that Cullman can support a quality music venue.
“Rock the South was tremendous and wonderful for Cullman, and I love the idea of putting Cullman on the map,” she said. “There is a lot of history here, but also some stigmas from the past, and I hope we can bring people locally and regionally here to see what Cullman is today and give them an incentive to be here and see all the wonderful things we have here.”
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.