Maple Leaf venue to bring entertainment back to Brown County

NASHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – Some exciting news for Brown County: Construction has begun on a $12.5 million entertainment venue.

The new venue will be called Maple Leaf and will be located next to the Brown County YMCA off of State Road 46 east of downtown Nashville. The venue will hold 2,000 people and belong to the county. Officials believe it will be great for business, and business owners do as well. 

The Toy Chest opened in Brown County almost 50 years ago. It is not the oldest business but one of the more well-known shops. 

“We try really hard to have things that you didn’t know you wanted or needed until you walk in here and see them,” said Toy Chest co-owner Hilary Key.

Key said tourism is what keeps business going. In fact, tourists make up about 80 percent of their sales, and that’s why Maple Leaf is music to her ears.

“We’re very hopeful it’ll be good for retail. The thing about coming to a concert in Brown County is, as opposed to almost anywhere else, that (if) you go to a concert, hopefully you’ll want to be here for more than just the show,” Keys said. 

Jane Ellis, the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director, pointed to the popularity of the Little Nashville Opry, which attracted big name stars to the area until it burned down to the ground in 2009. 

“You didn’t want to get caught in the Opry traffic. So, you had to make sure what time you came back and forth. It was a big impact on our restaurants as well. A lot of people would have dinner before a show. They would sell out a Saturday night show and a Sunday night show,” Ellis said.

According to Ellis, funding for Maple Leaf will come from innkeeper taxes, which is essentially taxes rental homes, hotel rooms and other lodging. The venue is expected to open in summer 2019.

Construction crews just started work on the multimillion-dollar venue. According to Ellis, Maple Leaf will feature a modern sound system and maintain a rustic Brown County look. 

“We plan on giving them such an experience the first time they come and check it out, that they’ll be coming year after year.” 

The county is working with Live Nation to line up acts, Ticketmaster for ticket sales and firms for branding and marketing. It is an opportunity they are not toying around with so that Toy Chest and its customers can.

“Did you even know that you needed a magic sequin cat with a mermaid tail, called a Purr-maid?” Key said and laughed.