AJRA coming back to Sweetwater

June 16, 2014

Nolan County Coliseum Manager Jeff Howard gives an update of the Coliseum and events at the recent SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board meeting. (Photo by Belinda Serrano)

An update on the Nolan County Coliseum was given at the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board of directors meeting held Monday by Coliseum Manager Jeff Howard.
The Coliseum was built in 1959, with the Annex built in 1961. The multi-purpose event center has played host to a wide variety of events, including rodeos, equestrian shows, livestock shows, rattlesnake roundups, banquets, trade shows, weddings, and much more.
There are five full-time employees at the Coliseum, with one part-time employee. Additional part-time employees are hired for some events.
In 2013, the Annex was booked 51 days, while the Coliseum was booked 103 days. This past fall, it hosted the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce banquet, and the following day, the Shale Show took place, proving how the Annex looks different for each event and serves its purpose.
The Shale Show was one of several new events held over the past year. The West Texas Fall Steer Classic took place on November 2, while the Mason Showpig Showmanship Camp was held on November 16 and 17 and the Sweetwater FFA was involved.
The AJRA (American Junior Rodeo Association) returned to Sweetwater, with spring rodeos held this year and again next year. The NFRs will be held in Sweetwater in 2014 and 2015 as well.
The Texas Region II rodeos for middle school and high school have each added two more weekends at the Coliseum. The high school finals will be held in April 2015, with the middle school finals date still to be determined.
Two events of the West Texas Barrel Race Association were added, along with the extravaganza held in March. The extravaganza was formerly held in Abilene for the past 34 years.
Looking ahead, the Dark Horse Roller Derby has already held two bouts and will hold three more at the facility. The Texas Best Show Series Lamb Show will take place August 9-10, in the midst of the Nolan County Fair slated for August 8-10.
The facility already hosts two to four events for over 40 team ropings, but would like to host all eight. Other energy-related events have been held, and overall, a 30% increase in events has been seen.
The Coliseum has been boosting its presence on social media, with an updated website (www.nolancc.com) and pages on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NolanCountyColiseum) and Twitter (@NolanCoColiseum). Additionally, they have released an updated logo.
From a financial standpoint, the combination of trailers plus horses plus exhibitors equals money. Furthermore, the tourism money made at the Coliseum has a ripple effect on the local economy.
The Coliseum also offers advertising opportunities through four different tiers. Prices start at $1,000 annually and gradually increase with additional promotion, including placement on the LED scoreboard.
Future plans for the Coliseum include coming up with new ideas and concepts, as the Populous engineer and architect firm from Oklahoma City has been hired. New construction and renovations ideas being considered are a new covered stall barn, another covered arena, additional RV connections, and updating the Annex and Coliseum. Howard is also working with three firms to develop an economic impact study for the Coliseum.
The upcoming 2014 Nolan County Fair will have the theme "Something for Everyone". Along with the lamb show, there will be a two-day steer and heifer show.
The Nolan County Car Cruisers Car Show will take place, with around 250 participants expected. And on Saturday night, Great White will hold a concert.
Furthermore, a barrel race sponsored by the West Texas Barrel Racing Association will be held, and there is the possibility of an event from the West Texas Mud Bog Association. Several food vendors will also be set up at the fair.
Also, the Coliseum is considering updating the downtown billboard with an LED billboard. While the current sign is 15 feet wide by 10 feet tall--which includes the 3 foot header, the potential two-sided sign, which would cost around $60,000, would replace could extend to feature community announcements.

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