New San Angelo Coliseum Plans Unveiled

SAN ANGELO, TX — The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association shared renditions of a complete coliseum remodel Wednesday afternoon. The model is of a proposed makeover of the current coliseum.

Rodeo officials have said the current rodeo format has maxed out the old San Angelo Coliseum, built in 1959. The venue was originally built to primarily house the annual rodeo event. The coliseum was built in the years following a tornado that destroyed much of Lake View area, including the rodeo fairgrounds and arena, in May 1953, according to San Angelo rodeo literature. The disaster was a catalyst for the rodeo association to work with the City of San Angelo to build the coliseum with its indoor arena. In March 1959, San Angelo’s rodeo moved indoors, inside the coliseum.

Plans for the renovation of the coliseum have been in the works for about a year. Financing it will cost more than $24 million, according to multiple sources. The rodeo association is awaiting finalized plans before putting a final price tag on the project. Funding can come from a variety of places, including the City of San Angelo Development Corporation, Tom Green County, and/or a bond initiative placed on the ballot. Selling the 20 box seat suites, or sky boxes, can also generate seed capital for the project.

Sources at the rodeo said the project will likely go to a bond referendum on the ballot should city leaders move forward with the renovation.

The renovated coliseum will feature a food court, upgraded restrooms, and additional seating for 2,800. The current coliseum seats 4,950. Adding a floor seating configuration for concerts, the renovated venue capacity will exceed 10,000.

While the rodeo association and the coliseum are historically tied together, the proposed renovated and larger venue will also bring more entertainment options like concerts.

The renovation is favored by Mike Boyd, head of the rodeo association, because the current arena is close to the action, unlike larger coliseums or retrofitted football stadiums where larger rodeos are held. Also, building a brand new coliseum is likely not possible in the current economic and political climate. Estimates are a brand new coliseum would require a bond referendum election for over $150 million. The last school bond for the San Angelo ISD was for $132 million and it failed. The renovation on the table that is estimated at $24 million will be easier to sell.

The improved facilities will grow the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. It is already one of the largest livestock shows in the nation and the rodeo consistently ranks in the top 2 in total entries. The rodeo association also hosts a variety of events year round as its facilities, including the coliseum, are available to rent year round.

The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association was originally part of the Board of City Development. The Board was a forerunner to the current San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. In 1983, the rodeo broke away from the chamber and became a separate organization. The rodeo association built the headquarters building at 200 W 43rd St. in 1988.

Funding projects like a coliseum renovation with public sector money fits with the historical way the rodeo fairgrounds have been improved. Over the years, numerous improvements and renovations were made to the facilities on the fairgrounds using tax dollars.

In January 1999, voters in San Angelo passed a one-half percent sales tax carve out to stimulate economic development. Through this sales tax, the City of San Angelo was able to renovate the Wells Fargo Pavilion, build the 1st Community Credit Union Spur Arena in 2002, Housley Communications Cattle Barn, and the Gandy Ink Livestock Barn in 2005. The City also completed the HEB Community Center which houses a large majority of the breeding shows.

According to the rodeo association, the annual rodeo and stock show generate $30 million in economic impact to the San Angelo area per year.

Plans for a San Angelo Coliseum renovation revealed on April 13, 2022

Plans for a San Angelo Coliseum renovation revealed on April 13, 2022

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Let the people who like rodeo finance this by buying the bonds needed to fund it.  Not the general voters of San Angelo.

No city bond for this.

The Rodeo is not the only thing that happens in the coliseum.  Events held there benefit the city as a whole.  

Personally, I think that if a new Coliseum is going to cost $150 million, then it should be put to a vote. Don't just assume that it's not going to pass simply because the SAISD's bond proposition didn't. 

When it came to the SAISD's bond proposition, they didn't sell it very well to the public. A lot of people questioned the spending and felt that the money was going to worthless things. People understand the need for new classrooms as the city grows. They also understand the need for larger cafeterias and larger kitchen areas as the schools grow. Where I saw a lot of people having issues was with is the proposal of things like vestibules or canopies. If people are going to agree to add money to their taxes, they want to see value in the money that they are going to spend. While vestibules and canopies are nice additions to have, they add no value to a school and aren't necessary. 

A new coliseum is a little different. The San Angelo coliseum was but in 1959, back when San Angelo's population was right at about 58,000. Fast forward 63 years to 2022 and San Angelo's population is right at 104,000. Add the metropolitan area and San Angelo is just shy of 120,000. The people of San Angelo understand that we need a new coliseum. Our current one is old and outdated. When big events come to town, there's just not enough parking to hold as many people come to the event. I, myself, had had to park a couple blocks away and I have seen many people do the same. The coliseum is overcrowded and hard to move around in. Pretty much everything about the coliseum is a negative. We need a new one. Everyone knows this. 

Making renovations to out of date coliseum is like putting a band-aid on a gapping wound. San Angelo doesn't need a band-aid. I say we put this thing to a vote. In the worst case scenario, the people say no. If that's the case, then let the renovations begin, but let's no sell ourselves short by not asking the people first. But you have to sell it to the public. You must explain why we need it, how it will benefit the community, and the things we can use it for. 

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