WM A&P corrals multi-purpose arena plans
Commission tables proposition to focus on other projects
We’re out of the chute, and it might turn into a horse race.
While the Marion Advertising & Promotion Commission voted to fund a study for a multi-purpose arena earlier this month, their counterparts in West Memphis decided to table looking at a completed study on the potential for bringing such a facility to their city.
The report in West Memphis has been in for quite a while. The 21-page analysis, entitled “Economic Impact from a Covered Horse Arena for the West Memphis, Arkansas Economy,” stemmed from discussions over the feasibility of such a venue. The executive summary pointed to the fact that that a covered arena would draw more than equestrian events.
While rodeos and barrel racing were expected draws, other events, including monster truck shows, circuses and carnivals, would make the covered arena a truly multi-purpose event center.
The study forecast economic impact during the first 20-year span for a West Memphis Arena. The arena was estimated to generate about a million dollars in new tax revenue and 75 new jobs each year.
The study did not include economic outcomes from other horse arenas in the region. Multi-purpose arenas come in two different levels of accommodations. The West Memphis Study focused on a covered arena, meaning no walls or climate controls. The ASU Equine Center is a frequently used covered area. A pair of multi-purpose arenas in the area are not only covered but enclosed, Barton Coliseum in Little Rock and John Battle Arena in Tunica. Just how well these facilities improved local economies was not revealed in the economic
impact study for the
West Memphis A& P to compare.
A well-done covered arena on an Interstate crossroads could glean events from nearby venues, but the other arenas also represent established competition for similar events.
The John Battle Arena is a multi-purpose center seating 6,000 and has some luxury boxes. Built in 2000, the 48,000 square foot arena parks 1,700 vehicles including 66 RV spaces. In addition to the covered arena, two adjacent rings are on sight with 360 livestock stalls and dressing areas. The climate controlled enclosed Tunica facility is over the top compared to concepts discussed to date at the local A& P.
West Memphis Tourism Director Jim Jackson reintroduced the analysis to A& P Commissioners at the September meeting.
“We paid good money for this report,” said Jackson.
“They said based on a 20year bond it would pay for itself.”
“The issue was that we asked for a different location,” said Commissioner Troy Keeping.
The current arena, an outdoor fairgrounds, is located on South Loop Road. Commissioners thought a more visible location might attract more events and post greater attendance. There is no paved parking at the current arena and no place for an RV which is how many horse show people roll. No action was officially undertaken to scout a better location.
Councilwoman Ramona Taylor asked for the arena discussion to be tabled in favor of moving forward with other business on the monthly agenda. New welcome signs and upgrading the civic center dominated the meeting. The arena proved to be too much to digest in one sitting.
“I think this deserves being looked at,” said Taylor, “but in this time frame and with everything going on I think we need to focus on the signs and getting the (RiverPAC) buildings finished.”
By John Rech