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Grandstand construction on the move

| January 20, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

Plans are moving ahead to build a permanent grandstand facility at J. Neils Memorial County Park, but rising costs may lead to some scaling back of the project.

Last summer, the county installed a fenced arena at the park for rodeos and other events, using a grant from the city¹s economic development fund. The city approved $245,000 for the project — enough to cover the estimated cost of $75,000 for a 150-by-280-foot arena plus $170,000 for a 1,000-seat roofed grandstand — while the county contributed another $15,000 to cover contingencies.

The cost of building the arena added up to nearly $99,000, leaving around $161,000 in the county fund allocated to the project. The sole bid for the grandstand, from CBS Constructors of McCook, Neb., came in recently at $199,000.

Rising steel prices are largely responsible for the high bid, said Lincoln County Commissioner Rita Windom. She said she is negotiating with the contractor to see what can be changed to bring the project cost back into reach.

The grandstand is scheduled to be built this spring to be available for summer events. A Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo, a follow up to last year¹s inaugural event at the arena, is scheduled for July 29-30.

Last year¹s rodeo was considered a success by project organizers, with sell-out crowds gathering at the park on both nights.

Proponents of the arena project estimated that it would pay for itself in two to three years through money brought into the community, with a rodeo and a bull riding event combining to draw 2,000 people per year.

In addition to rodeos, the arena is designed to host other activities like various horse events, outdoor concerts, logging contests and motorcycle events