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.