The ongoing construction at Feld Entertainment's new headquarters for producing its circus, ice and monster truck shows, and eventually its corporate offices.
Staff Photo by Thomas Bender
By Doug Sword
from: Sarasota Herald Tribune
Friday, November 9, 2012
ELLENTON - The beige, 100-foot-tall walls of the former Siemens plant that can be seen for miles along the Manatee River will not stay blank and bland much longer.
Circus folk are coming to town.
Feld Entertainment's $20 million-plus rehabilitation of the 575,000-square-foot plant — where the company that owns Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus will bring its worldwide production headquarters and possibly more — is moving at a brisk pace.
Work hit a high-point in August, when a construction crew of more than 400 was on site. A first phase of the buildout is set to be finished early next year.
Soon, Feld will begin customizing the site as a precursor to eventually bringing 235 jobs to the region.
Casey Rodgers, Feld's vice president of finance and strategic planning, looks at the blank exterior walls and imagines them capturing the attention of company owner Kenneth Feld.
"It's a canvas," Rodgers said, looking at one of the structures. "We have a flair our owner will exercise."
For Ringling, which had its winter headquarters in Sarasota beginning in 1927 and then in Venice from 1959 to 1989, the move to Manatee County is something of a homecoming. Feld's father, Irvin Feld, bought the circus in 1967, and Feld Entertainment has operated it since then.
Besides putting a dash of color on what was Southwest Florida's largest vacant building, landing Feld represents the largest in a series of economic development coups in recent years for Manatee County.