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Thu, Oct. 17

Grant's 'strings' worry Mohave County Fair Board boss

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Fairgrounds will soon have an improved rodeo arena, but its location and its cost are still up in the air.

The Board of Supervisors approved a $50,000 one-time matching grant for the Mohave County Fair Association to upgrade and repair the existing rodeo arena April 1.

The location of the arena has been a bone of contention between local rodeo and motorsports enthusiasts, but Fair Association Board Chairman Charles Cox is more worried about how the association is going to meet the strings attached to the grant and cover the costs.

He pointed out that the agreement approved by the supervisors states that the grant is "not to exceed $50,000" and calls for a "championship rodeo arena to be located in front of the main stadium."

It also states the funding is "contingent on the Mohave County Fair Commission obtaining future Board of Supervisors' approval on the final plan and schedule of arena repairs and upgrades to include additional stadium seating necessary to adequately accommodate patrons, an animal staging area, lighting and sound system, and portable rodeo equipment and appurtenances necessary to host Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association sanctioned events."

Even if the fair association can raise another $50,000 to match the county's offer, a $100,000 is not going to cover the cost, Cox said.

"I don't know what a professional rodeo arena costs," he said. The association had looked at a catalog to purchase additional seating for the area and found that it cost approximately $23,000 for seating for 240 people.

"They're talking about drawing around 20,000 people. We don't have enough seating," Cox said. "If we double the seating it's going to cost more than $100,000."

He also pointed out that any construction at the facility will have to be approved by the county, the city building department and the Kingman Fire Department. The association will have to pull building permits and pay for inspections, as well as labor and materials.

Some people have suggested that the association use some of its reserve funds to pay for the upgrades, he said, but those funds have been set aside for emergencies and to make sure the utility bills for the fairgrounds can be paid for the next six months.

Cox said the association hasn't really had a chance to ask Supervisor Gary Watson about the details of the offer or the Kingsmen if they are willing to help with the cost of the new arena.

Watson indicated Cox may be over-reacting because he doesn't understand what the supervisors have in mind.

"All they have to do is raise $50,000 to match it and present the Board with a plan," Watson said.

The whole project doesn't have to be done in one year, he added.

Watson has been working with the fair association for more than four years to improve the fairgrounds. He said the association has made great improvements to the grandstands area, exhibit buildings, cleaned up the grounds and brought in new events.

"We'd better get started fundraising," Cox said.

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