Thu | Apr 19, 2018

UDC seeks investor in Sumfest venue

Published:Friday | April 13, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this July 22, 2017 photo, the Reggae Sumfest sign forms a backdrop for investor Joe Bogdanovich, during the staging of the festival at Catherine Hall, Montego Bay. Venue owner, the Urban Development Corporation, is seeking an investor for the site to redevelop it into a permanent entertainment spot.

The Urban Development Corporation, UDC, said Tuesday that it is ready to place the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, the staging ground for the annual Reggae Sumfest music show, on the market in search of an investor to transform it into a permanent show spot.

That decision comes more than two decades after the first Reggae Sumfest show in 1993, turning the property into a mega-concert venue once every year. Beyond that, the near 19-acre property sits largely unused on Catherine Hall's shoreline.

The UDC told the Financial Gleaner that the property would be advertised to the general public in the first fiscal quarter, that is, by June of this year, for lease and development.

The intent is to bring other shows and events to the grounds to increase its utilisation.

Reggae Sumfest was started in 1993 by investors Robert Russell and Johnny Gourzong, along with a group of Montego Bay business and cultural interests. Besides being the largest music festival in Jamaica, Reggae Sumfest is described as the most authentic reggae and dancehall festival in the world.

The international festival is now a calendar event in Montego Bay and is considered an important contribution to the resort city's economy. The size of that contributed was last projected in 2015 to be around US$9 million.

In its last staging in July 2017, the concert was deemed a big success, but the size of the crowds it generated is unknown. The festival typically brings in tens of thousands of visitors to MoBay from abroad and other parishes. Last year's event was the first under a new operator, after DownSound Entertainment, headed by entrepreneur Joseph Bogdanovich, purchased the rights to Reggae Sumfest from Summerfest Productions in 2016. The mission of Bogdanovich and his DownSound Entertainment team was to turn Reggae Sumfest into an even bigger global media and festival property.

Elsewhere in Montego Bay, the UDC is also seeking buyers for a 23-acre swathe of land at Rose Hall, which sits opposite the convention centre.

The property, named Seaside at Rose Hall, is between the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa and the Half Moon resort. UDC said it would be advertised to the market later this year.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com