Plans Unveiled for Archer Fairgrounds

May 12, 2014

From The Wyoming Tribune Eagle,
By Lucas High

CHEYENNE -- Laramie County Fair officials unveiled a vision earlier this week of what the fair might look like if it were to move entirely to the Archer complex east of the city.

For the past five years, the fair has been split between two locations: the Laramie County Fairgrounds at Archer, about 11 miles east of Cheyenne, and Frontier Park, the home of Cheyenne Frontier Days, which is adjacent to Lions Park inside the city.

The Laramie County Fair Board has been lobbying to consolidate the fair to a single location to improve operational efficiency and the overall experience for fairgoers.

Glen Calvert and John Birkey, consultants hired by the fair board, presented a plan for the Archer site to the Laramie County Commission on Tuesday.

The plan centers around the construction of a 116,000-square-foot multi-use arena on the south end of the site.

Rendering by Norris Design

The arena would serve as the main exhibition hall for the fair. It also would be able to house more than 1,000 animal stalls and pens, according to design schematics.

The arena would be available for use year-round for events like trade shows and rodeos.

During such shows and other exhibitions, the arena could house more than 100 booths, ranging in size from 10 feet by 10 feet to 40 feet by 40 feet.

The space would also be large enough to house a 135- by 250-foot rodeo surface and bleacher seating for 1,000 spectators.

The structure would be a pre-engineered metal building.

“It would not be the Taj Mahal in terms of what the building would look like,” Calvert said. “But it would be very durable in order to keep the costs under control as much as possible.”

Calvert is the general manager of Priefert Complex Designs.

Just north of the proposed arena location would be the main carnival midway, which would utilize an existing open space.

This area would include space for rides and vendor tents.

“There are already existing trees in that area, but additional trees would be put in for shade and for wind-breaking,” said Birkey, who works for the firm Norris Design.

North of the midway would be a park area and an outdoor amphitheater for concerts, plays and movie screenings.

A camping and RV parking area would occupy the far northern portion of the fairgrounds.

Current plans allow for parking stalls for up to 20 RVs. “But that could easily be expanded to fit more,” Birkey said.

Encircling the fairgrounds would be a 1.5-mile biking and jogging trail.

Birkey and Calvert said they envision the entire project to be built in two phases. The first phase would focus on the construction of the multi-use arena. The second phase would involve building the outdoor amphitheater, as well as landscaping of the fairgrounds.

They estimate the total cost of both phases at just over $9.1 million.

Calvert said under ideal conditions, construction of the arena would take about a year. “But it might take two years, given the weather conditions here.”

How the county plans to fund the project remains unclear. In 2012, voters rejected a plan that would have used sixth-penny sales tax funds to move the fair operations to Archer and build a new events center there.

“We are going to have to pound the pavement and raise some money for this project,” fair board Chairman Steve Secrest said.

The plan presented Tuesday would be less expensive than the previous plan to consolidate the fairgrounds, which could convince voters to approve funding if it were to appear on a future sixth-penny ballot, Secrest said.

Selling naming rights for the fairgrounds is another funding option being considered by the fair board, Secrest said.