Paul Tyson Field demolition set to resume, free space for equine center

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That pesky Heart O’ Texas Fair ended on Sunday, so teams can continue tearing down the old Paul Tyson grounds along Lake Air Drive and create space for a $10 million equine center project. in years.

The center would allow the fairgrounds to host two cattle or horse shows simultaneously, with approximately 1,000 stalls available between the new facility and the existing accommodations.

“We refuse all the time,” said Wes Allison, president and CEO of Extraco Events Center.

One animal in a stall usually means more than two new humans in Waco, many of whom stay in hotels, dine in restaurants or visit attractions, Allison said. A temperature-controlled facility would make Waco competitive with places like Katy, Abilene, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, though Waco already hosts cattle and equine shows about 45 weekends a year, drawing about 250,000 people to the grounds. every year, he said.

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Allison said with the dismantling of Paul Tyson Field put on hold, his field served as an overflow parking lot during the HOT fair, except on rainy Sundays. Crews leveled and placed crushed limestone on former football pitches near the stadium, providing livestock exhibitors with space away from public parking.

“It will help us in November when we host the WPRA and Elite Barrel Racing World Finals,” Allison said. “It’s a week-long event, and they’ll need parking and space, nearly a thousand booths, about 300 more than last year.”

He said staff would set up temporary booths to accommodate the event.

The Paul Tyson Land Leveling is key to the ongoing “place” project that involves McLennan County, the City of Waco and the Waco Independent School District. Land exchanges between the entities have produced sites for a new Lake Air Little League and Challenger League complex currently under construction, the base’s multi-purpose facility at the fairgrounds, the proposed equine center, and the new Paul Tyson Field complex. near Waco High School.

General contractor John W. Erwin oversees the grading of 61-year-old Paul Tyson Field, named for the pioneering coach whose Waco High Tigers dominated Texas football in the 1920s. Leander completed the asbestos removal before the start of the fair on October 6th.

McLennan County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a final payment of $188,008 to John W. Erwin for overseeing construction of the base, a figure that includes $36,237 for the installation of dedicated monuments at the site of the base.

“He came in ahead of schedule and under budget,” McLennan County Administrator Dustin Chapman said of the base.

He said the county paid $32.1 million in tax bond proceeds to build the multipurpose center, down $321,000 from the county’s original estimate of $32.4 million. Chapman said the money would revert to the county, remaining in the site fund.

The county is paying $888,285 to dismantle Paul Tyson Field.

The moniker “place” refers to the type of voter-approved tax funding the efforts, in the case of McLennan County, a tax on vehicle rentals and hotel stays.

The county is paying $1.8 million a year in debt service to repay the bonds it has issued so far. The 2% tax on hotel stays and the 5% tax on car rentals now generate about $3 million a year. Chapman said the county was gaining ground it lost during the pandemic, when travel and tourism declined.

But the county has obligations beyond that $1.8 million. Each year, he pays both Waco and Waco ISD a generated percentage of more than $1.8 million. Interlocal agreements making the various projects possible left the county with the city $3.6 million and Waco ISD $2.4 million, County Judge Scott Felton said.

Allison said the ongoing obligations could push back the construction of a new equine center by three or four years. He said venue funds needed time to grow.

“I haven’t prepared a pro forma extending our hotel tax revenue. I know it’s growing because of a number of things: a lot of business brings people to our city, and we have more hotel rooms. We have the opportunity to do more and bigger events, Felton said. “I expect that to continue unless something very negative happens in the economy. .”

Felton said he expects himself and the commissioners to carefully review the proposed equine center after Jan. 1, “to project who it will serve, what it will look like, how the show market is doing We have to go because everyone knows time flies.

Allison said the air-conditioned center will include 260 stalls, a warm-up paddock, concession area and restrooms. A covered unloading area would connect the main building to a detached barn, a great help in case of bad weather.

Allison said horse and livestock shows are growing in popularity, especially among young people and retirees. He said he has seen an increase in riding lessons for people over 55, “retirees with disposable income”.

Allison said crews this week could set up a temporary warm-up paddock where the equine facility would be built “because we need the extra space.”

He estimated that the HOT 2022 fair generated $5 million in revenue, which will go towards scholarships and payment of daily expenses.

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