As construction of Bulloch County’s new multipurpose arena continues, additional needs prompted Bulloch County commissioners to approve two change orders recently that add $1 million to the cost.
Commissioners voted Tuesday to accept a change order for $507,086 for large fans, electrical work, painting, concrete bleachers and a scorer’s platform in the main arena; painting and electrical work for the practice arena; fans, electricity and painting for the stall barn; and a PA system and paving for the perimeter roads and RV loop, according to documents included in commissioners’ packages during the meeting.
A previous change order for $500,000 was recently approved for fencing, a tractor, accessories and other equipment for maintaining the facility, said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch.
The multipurpose arena was approved by voters more than 18 years ago, as part of the Bulloch County Center for Agriculture. Original plans were to construct a facility with a “one-stop shop” office complex where farmers could access several agricultural offices in one building, a convention facility and the arena.
Voters approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to fund the project, but over the years, the office complex was built, but the convention facility and arena were put on hold. Commissioners revived the project last year, and while plans for the convention portion of the facility were abandoned, the arena, compete with a stall barn and practice arena, is expected to be completed by the spring, Couch said.
The covered arenas and stall barn will be able to be used for livestock events, trade shows, concerts, flower shows, equipment expositions and more. Couch said several entities have already expressed interest in booking events.
“We have had a half-dozen inquiries already,” he said.
These include the national Appaloosa Horse Club, the Savannah Kennel Club and the Statesboro Kiwanis Club regarding its annual rodeo.
But county officials haven’t even begun marketing the facility, said Mike Rollins, director of Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation.
“We haven’t solicited anyone,” he said. “We won’t be able to host any events until at least June. But once we get done, we’ll have plenty of interest.”
Couch predicted the arena will be completed by April, “depending on the pace of construction,” but Rollins said there is a “great deal of site work to be done,” such as placing sod and landscaping after the construction is completed.
Looking for a manager
Then, there is the question of who will manage the facility.
“The main challenge is getting a manager hired,” Couch said. “We have had a dozen applications.”
Rollins said interviews of applicants for the arena manager position are expected to begin next week.
The added expense of the recent change orders will be funded through a lease agreement for equipment and from contingency funds, SPLOST and other accounts for the fixtures and other needs, Rollins said.
Last March, Couch said Pope Construction told commissioners the arena could be built at a price of just over $4,282, 000. The change orders will bring the cost of the project to about $5,300,000, still less than the original $6.1 million in SPLOST funds voters approved in 1999.
The agricultural complex site is located on 25 acres, with a 4-acre pond, 1.5 miles south of Statesboro on Langston Chapel Road, across from Langston Chapel Elementary and Middle schools.
The main covered arena will be 54,000 square feet, with a portable 125-by-250-foot performance ring and bleachers for 3,000 people on one side. There also will be restrooms and a concessions area, as well as office space for show administration.
The covered practice arena will be 38,500 square feet, with a ring equal to the size of the main show ring, minus the bleachers.
The livestock barn will include 218 permanent 10-foot-square stalls and 20 wash bays, with electricity at each stall for grooming equipment. The arenas and barn will be connected by covered walkways, with access to parking for trucks and trailers.
An RV campground adjacent to the livestock barn will offer 53 campsites with full utilities and additional camper parking space for self-supporting campers. There also will be a central station with water and sewage available on site.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.