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Partial roof grandstand likely

| January 25, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

A proposed permanent grandstand facility at J. Neils Memorial County Park will likely be built with only a partial roof due to higher than expected bids.

County officials met Monday to discuss several options to bring the project into line with available funding and settled on a plan that calls for only 354 of the grandstand¹s 973 seats to be covered. A local contractor will be consulted for an estimate on building a roof over the remaining seats along with another estimate for building the entire roof to provide another potential option for saving costs.

The county installed a fenced arena at the park last summer, using a $245,000 grant from the city¹s economic development fund plus $15,000 in county funds to cover contingencies. The grant from the city was based on an estimated cost of $75,000 for a 150-by-280-foot arena plus $170,000 for a 1,000-seat covered grandstand.

The cost of building the arena added up to nearly $99,000, leaving $161,275 in the county¹s fund for the project. The only bid for the grandstand, from a Nebraska firm, came in recently at $199,000 for 973 covered seats. The increased cost was attributed to rising steel prices.

Discussions with the Nebraska contractor yielded several new options, which were discussed at Monday¹s meeting. In addition to the option that was selected — pegged at $163,500 — the alternate proposals included a 1,475-seat uncovered grandstand for $161,500 and a 620-seat covered grandstand for $155,000.

Lincoln County Commissioner Rita Windom called the proposal for the partially covered structure ³the best bang for the buck.²

The partial roof will be a good start and allow the rest of the facility to be covered later, said county parks and recreation director Carol Ann Peltier.

³If people see that 354, they¹re going to say, ŒWow, wouldn¹t it be nice if we could make the rest happen,¹² she said.

Peltier pointed out that the county bought six new 60-seat bleacher units last year, adding another 360 uncovered seats for events at the park.

Windom said the county can cover the $2,225 difference between the revised bid and the project fund with money from the parks budget. Potential sources of funding to put a roof over the uncovered portion of the facility that were discussed at Monday¹s meeting included adding a $2 surcharge to ticket prices and holding a series of benefit concerts at the park.

The grandstand is scheduled to be built this spring to be available for summer events. A Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo is scheduled for July 29-30. A PRCA rodeo was held at the park for the first time last year and drew an estimated 1,200 people to the park on each of two nights.