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$3 million Fairgrounds project begins

Sun Advocate Reporter

The County Fairgrounds Arena looks different without a grandstand. The metal bleachers that used to seat thousands of rodeo and demolition derby fans are gone, as are the roof and all the fixtures.

Now the race is on to get the new grandstand - complete with built-in concession stands and storage - built by next summer's event season.

Last Wednesday, the County Commission named Nelco Construction as the subcontractor for the earthwork and foundation preparation. Meanwhile, a contract for BODEC, Inc. is ready for signing to install a new electrical system. The existing system is 50 years old, so old that spare parts are no longer available for it.

The work is all part of a $3 million facelift at the facilities. In addition to expanding grandstand capacity by 600 to 700 seats, the project also calls for:

- A new restroom between the motocross track and the skating rink;

- A $250,000 audio system;

- New lighting; and

- Demolition and reconstruction of the old maintenance sheds now adjacent to the arena.

The new location for the sheds will be on 2.5 acres in the southwest corner of the park. The main building will be 15,000 square feet, which should be enough to house and maintain all the grounds-keeping equipment.

Funding for the project comes from a $1,337,500 grant and an equal amount as a loan from the Community Impact Board. The local share includes $300,000 from mineral lease money in the Roads and Recreation Special Service District fund and a $25,000 donation from Conoco/Phillips.

To finance the loan, the commission on Wednesday approved the issuance of $1,337,500 in zero interest bonds to be funded by revenues from the one-percent Restaurant Sales Tax. Property and retail sales taxes are not used in construction of the new facilities.

Demolition and removal of the grandstand was free. Price Metal Salvage did the work in exchange for the scrap.

The County is acting as its own general contractor on the project.

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