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New plans for former Mountain Laurel center in Poconos

In 2003, the facility was built with $15 million in taxpayer money and struggled to stay open throughout the years. Now, the venue is getting ready to reopen.

PIKE COUNTY, Pa. — The stage and seats inside the former Mountain Laurel Center for the Performing Arts in Lehman Township, Pike County, have been empty and abandoned for years.

The hope is that the seats will soon be filled with fans experiencing live entertainment at the venue.

John Oakes is the new owner of the venue, now called Poconos Park.

"Whether they live in the Poconos or they vacation in the Poconos to experience the great outdoors and coming to a concert or a live event in the great outdoors is a dream come true," said Oakes.

Before Oakes bought the amphitheater, the Mountain Laurel Center had a rocky start.

In 2003, the facility was built with $15 million in taxpayer money and struggled to stay open throughout the years.

"Everybody has an opinion on what happened and why it happened, and we really look forward to the future of what we will be able to do under our leadership and management to again bring people together through music and other entertainment here on our property," Oakes said.

The owner says the venue will be able to host all different types of events and artists, hoping to get more people back in the seats.

"Our hope is to have a mixed variety of entertainment," Oakes said. "We'll do small events, medium-sized community events, and then larger concerts and music festivals."

With more than two decades of experience in touring, managing, and producing concerts across the United States, Oakes believes he's the one who can bring the music back to the venue.

"I feel like I have been practicing my entire life since I was a 15-year-old kid putting on my first concert to now bringing large groups of people together to have a good time. It's just what I have done, you know, by and large, my entire career, and so to do it here in a beautiful setting, you know, ask us in five years," Oakes said.

Poconos Park expects to open with its first show in September.

RELATED: Attorney Tells Why He Feels Mount Laurel Performing Arts Center Failed

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