The renovated 1909 Stadium Arena Market and the new CSU Center will be in a plaza that would include small retail spaces, areas for events and exhibits, test and research growing plots, community gardens and a small urban farm. Courtesy Parson Brinkerhoff Design Team

New-look stock show has CSU in key role National Western will tap school’s expertise in agriculture, animals

DENVER — As the iconic National Western Stock Show moves to reinvent itself with a nearly $900 million makeover, Colorado State University will play an integral role, much as it has for more than 100 years.

Paul Andrews, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Western Stock Show Association that oversees the show and grounds, said CSU has been partnering with the stock show since 1906.

Now, as the National Western envisions a life as a year-round learning center and tourist destination, it will tap into CSU’s agriculture and equine programs in a major way.

The city and county of Denver, Western Stock Show Association, CSU, History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are partnering to create the National Western Center that will embrace all things western, from education to its traditional agricultural sales and rodeo activities.

Last December, the city of Denver released a master plan that would remove most of the existing stock show structures, the horse-focused events center and the Denver Coliseum, and replace them with new buildings. Two historic structures – the Stadium Arena, built in 1909, and the Livestock Exchange, built in 1915, will be preserved through renovation, Andrews said.

The estimated cost of the ambition project is $856 million. The city of Denver plans to contribute $673 million, the bulk coming over time from a lodgers’ and rental-car tax that would be extended beyond its 2023 expiration date, and $200 million coming from other city sources. Andrews said the stock association would contribute $125 million, made up of $50 million in cash plus revenue from selling naming rights to buildings and the value of its land that is being used.

CSU has pledged an estimated $16.2 million to equip an equine sports medicine clinic. The university also is envisioning running a collaborative community outreach veterinary clinic and clinical trials center, a water resources center, a CSU center that may include a food-systems innovation and learning center; a Denver urban extension center; an educational urban farm with demonstration fields; classrooms; laboratories; and a test kitchen and administrative space.

CSU’s Water Resources Center would be built along the renovated South Platte River waterfront. The Stockyards/Event Pavilion and the new Livestock Center are in the background. Courtesy Parson Brinkerhoff Design Team

Other facilities and CSU spaces may be identified as design progresses. CSU is expected to lease space in the buildings with an option to buy.

Jocelyn Hittle, director of Denver operational initiatives for CSU, said specifics of CSU’s plans still are being formulated and associated costs have not been determined.

She said CSU’s presence at the new complex will allow CSU to continue and improve on the work of CSU’s extension office in Denver. She said it also can be a way to inform youngsters about careers in agriculture, water, food systems and animal medicine.

“K-12 students could come to a horse show and then tour facilities that expose them to innovations in agriculture and veterinary programs, or programs that address water issues and how they affect the food system,” she said. “They could attend a demonstration at a clinic and may see something that sparks an interest in a career in agriculture or equine medicine.”

CSU will occupy three buildings, the CSU Center, the equine center and the water-resource center.

The master plan also calls for a new 10,000-seat show arena, 450,000-square-foot exposition hall, a livestock center and equestrian building, Andrews said.

With improved facilities, Andrews said Denver will be able to draw world-class horse shows and events, educational programs on agriculture, equine medicine and western heritage.

A recent study commissioned by the partnership and conducted by Atlanta-based Strategic Advisory Group predicted that the new center’s annual economic impact would double from $100 million to $200 million.

“The 16-day stock show has made enough money to stay in business, but not enough to upgrade the complex, “Andrews said. “The complex is old. Its buildings are failing, obsolete and difficult to manage in their current state.

Legislation spelling out details of project financing, House Bill 15-1344, has passed both the Colorado House and Senate. The bill authorizes the state to enter into lease-purchase agreements up to $250 million for 20 years and to finance the construction of facilities at the National Western Center. The lease-purchase agreement does not create any liability or indebtedness of CSU, according to the bill sponsored by Reps. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan; Crisanta Duran, D-Denver; Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling; and Pat Steadman, D-Denver.

Sen. John Kafelas, D-Fort Collins, is supporting what he calls a “good bill.”

“This is a good concept. Denver and the stock show need this, and it will allow CSU to continue its leading work in water resources, agriculture and equine medicine, both in Fort Collins and Denver. It will have a positive impact for CSU’s role in Colorado’s innovative agriculture cluster.”

Kefelas said the city of Denver will foot a lot of the bill, but because of the checks and balances that are in place, a lot has to happen before it goes forward,” referring to the extension of the lodgers’ tax and the issuance of certificates of participation, a type of financing where an investor purchases a share of the lease revenue of a program rather than the bond being secured by that revenue.

The bill would create two funds: the National Western Center Trust Fund and the Capitol Complex Master Plan Implementation Fund. Money in the National Western Center Trust Fund would be used to make annual lease-purchase payments. Money in the CCMP Implementation Fund would be spent to fund construction projects.

The lease-purchase agreements cannot be issued before July 1, 2019, and not until voters of the city and county of Denver approve an extension of the lodging and car rental taxes.

Editor’s note: The print version of this story went to press before the Colorado Senate gave its approval to the project financing plan.

DENVER — As the iconic National Western Stock Show moves to reinvent itself with a nearly $900 million makeover, Colorado State University will play an integral role, much as it has for more than 100 years.

Paul Andrews, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Western Stock Show Association that oversees the show and grounds, said CSU has been partnering with the stock show since 1906.

Now, as the National Western envisions a life as a year-round learning center and tourist destination, it will tap into CSU’s agriculture and equine programs in a major way.

The city and county of Denver, Western Stock Show Association, CSU, History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are partnering to create the National Western Center that will embrace all things western, from education to its traditional agricultural sales and rodeo activities.

Last December, the city of Denver released a master plan that would remove most of the existing stock show structures, the horse-focused events center and the Denver Coliseum, and replace them with new buildings. Two historic structures – the Stadium Arena, built in 1909, and the Livestock Exchange, built in 1915, will be preserved through renovation, Andrews said.

The estimated cost of the ambition project is $856 million. The city of Denver plans to contribute $673 million, the bulk coming over time from a lodgers’ and rental-car tax that would be extended beyond its 2023 expiration date, and $200 million coming from other…