This story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Move over, Dollywood. The mega-hit Blue Collar Comedy trio of Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy are prepping a theme park of their own. The Foley, Ala., locale, titled Blue Collar Country, has been described by Foley mayor John Koniar as Branson, Mo., meets Six Flags.
Construction has yet to begin, but the roughly 500-acre development is expected to include hotels, retail, an RV resort, rides, a 100,000-square-foot events center (for concerts, sporting events and conventions) and restaurants including a Foxworthy-themed steak house, an Engvall fish spot and a Larry the Cable Guy rib joint.
Phase one of the project will cost about $200 million, which will come through a combination of bonds, grants and institutional financing, say sources, plus local and federal tax credits. If all goes according to plan, Blue Collar Country will be up and running in the next two to three years, according to Blue Collar manager J.P. Williams. With Williams' guidance, the Blue Collar trio has earned many millions from TV shows, tours, films, books and merchandise, which made the brand ripe for a dramatic expansion.
If the Alabama location is successful, the group -- which includes singer Tony Orlando, who is said to have come up with the idea and found the location -- will look to open as many as six other Blue Collar locales around the country.