Indoor arena may be approved
Jan 09, 2013 (The Santa Fe New Mexican - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A combination of state, county and city funding would provide $200,000 for designing an indoor arena at the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds.
The city is currently on track to approve a bill introduced by Mayor David Coss that would give $100,000 to the project. A precursor to the measure was already approved in December 2011, but that money was to be given if Rodeo Property Inc., the owner of the property and a subsidiary of Rodeo de Santa Fe, was able to match the $100,000. The group secured funding from the Legislature for $81,000, and another $19,000 from the county, according to Rodeo de Santa Fe's lobbyist, Pilar Faulkner.
"Everybody is in support of it," said Jim Butler, president of Rodeo de Santa Fe. "It's just a formality at this point."
Butler also serves as the vice president of the Rodeo Property. For the past six or seven years, he said, he and the organization have wanted an indoor arena, but they couldn't find support for it. Now with city, county and state backing, Butler said, the time is ripe.
That a feasibility study is already under way, and that a local architect firm, SMPC Architects, will draft the plans. Faulkner said SMPC will be working with the architect firm Populous, the same group that built the 2012 London Olympic Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Isotopes Park. Faulkner, though, was quick to clarify that the firm isn't planning to make a superstadium out of the current rodeo.
"We don't have the parking or the acreage for that," Faulkner said. "We really want to make this something that works for the community."
Though no exact figure can be determined until blueprints are drawn up, Faulkner said the arena will probably cost $20 million to $25 million, and she added the group would seek private and public money for the project.
Faulkner also said the stadium would remain the same size, 150 feet by 300 feet, according to Butler, and that available seats would run in the 5,000 to 8,000 range.
The city money will come from Capital Improvement Bonds, according to Fabian Trujillo, the Economic Division Development director with the city; state money will come from the Local Government Division of the Department of Finance and Administration, according to the bill; and county funding will come from economic development funds in the 2013 budget according to spokesperson Kristine Mihelcic.
Coss said that he originally sought funding for the rodeo because of its cultural legacy. Coss added that state laws have strict parameters about cities or municipalities donating money to private groups.
"I think the rodeo has been an institution in Santa Fe since before I was born," Coss said Tuesday. "There's so much potential for that parcel of land. One rodeo a year is definitely under utilizing the space."
Coss added that the rodeo land is zoned for retail development, but that he would rather see Santa Fe hold onto its western heritage. He also said he might consider additional money based on the blueprints and the results of the feasibility study.
According to Butler, the arena would be a multipurpose venue for rodeo, sports, and entertainment events and could provide temporary disaster relief for animals. The grounds have been used in a similar manner in the past -- Bulter offered the Cerro Grande fire as an example -- but only for animals. He said the indoor arena could provide people with restrooms and a roof regardless of weather conditions, which is part of the rodeo's mission Bulter said.
"My charter is to grow the rodeo," Butler said. "And the rodeo charter to pass that onto to the community."
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