Stanly commissioners consider fate of proposed livestock arena

The fate of the proposed livestock arena for Stanly County again came before county commissioners at Tuesday’s board meeting.

With a unanimous 7-0 vote, commissioners directed county staff to contact general contractors to give a guaranteed maximum price on the full livestock arena, including a climate-controlled meeting place and classrooms.

The original project began in 2012, according to Arena Steering Committee member Curtis Furr.

County Manager Andy Lucas said the initial bid came in 2018 at $3.492 million, with the county pledging $1.75 million. The board initially deferred the project in order to find $1 million in funds from other sources.

A total of $2.973 million, including private and public donations and funds, have been pledged to the arena.

However, after a tour of a similar facility in Union County, the board decided in 2020 to go with a design build project for the arena which included an additional meeting space.

Lucas said no similar space was available in the county except for the recent reopening of the meeting space at Atrium Health Stanly. He said the cost of the space in 2022 terms would be an additional $600,000.

Lucas said the estimate of the maximum cost for the arena would now be $5.8 million.

Lucas noted the board has plans to build a new sheriff’s office (at $10 million) and $8 million for a new 911 call center. Along with the approximate cost for the arena, the total for all three would be around $24 million. Lucas said it would require $16 million of financing for all three. Debt service for the three projects might cost the county $1.1 million per year.

Commissioner Lane Furr asked if the arena would generate revenue.  Lucas said it would; however, those fees generated might not cover the costs.

In terms of what types of events can take place there, Lucas said, “only our imagination limits what we could do in the space.”

Curtis Furr, in speaking to the board, also said his committee would not stop trying to raise donations for the event.

“Don’t give up on us,” Furr said.