Commissioner: Events center usage far off

CNJ file photo County officials are hopeful for $850,000 in capital outlay money from the state Legislature to help with construction of the Curry County Events Center.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Even when construction is finished on Curry County’s Special Events Center, it could be several months before it’s available for use, a county commissioner said.

While construction of the $7 million facility is scheduled for completion by late August, the county still has to furnish it.

“We have enough to build the building, but there’s far more to it than just the building,” said County Commissioner Frank Blackburn. “The facilities inside such as kitchen facilities and some P.A. system (equipment) and many little things like that (need work).”

The county is expecting about $850,000 for the facility, pending Gov. Bill Richardson’s approval of a $348 million capital outlay package the Legislature passed Feb. 14. Richardson has until March 5 to sign the bill.

“I don’t expect that building to be ready until near the end of the year,” Blackburn said. “We have all these delays, just like this, vetoing this money. It pushes things back a few days every time that happens. But we plan to go on with it. Some way we’ve got to get a hold of some money. We’ll have to borrow it.”

Blackburn said he doesn’t know if the county will raise taxes to complete the facility.
County Manager Lance Pyle said the money from the state will be used to pay for amenities to furnish the facility.

The top priorities include 1,500 folding chairs for arena floor seating, bucking and roping chutes, a storage system for arena seating, a floor system and a portable stage.

The total list comes up to an estimate of between $1.5 million and $2 million, Pyle said. He said the county has about $500,000 in reserve funds for the facility.

Pyle said the county has not made a decision on who will manage the facility. He said county commissioners should start discussing management of the facility between May and August.

Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum submitted a $96,000 bid for managing the events center and the Curry County Fairgrounds. Global Spectrum also operates the city’s 1 1/2-year-old civic center.

“The county commission will determine if they want the fairgrounds manager to schedule the events, hire an events center manager or hire an outside firm,” he said.

Blackburn said the county hired Susan Ferrell as fairgrounds manager last month.