Lubbock expo center

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COVID-19 delays construction on Lubbock County Expo Center, now set to open in 2023

LUBBOCK, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the groundbreaking for the Lubbock County Expo Center until this fall.

“It’ll take 18 months to two years to build it, so our goal is to have the ABC Rodeo be one of the first events in April of 2023,” said Randy Jordan, president of the Lubbock County Expo Center executive board.

Jordan said while the $50 million project is still “in budget,” it has been extremely difficult to fundraise within the community. The Expo Center is also partially funded by local hotel and rental car tax revenue.

“That revenue in the first part of 2020 was awful,” said Jordan. “The final months of 2020 were improvement but just not enough.”

Jordan said the ABC Rodeo would have to remain at the Mallet Event Center in Levelland until the Expo Center is finished.

To assist with the Lubbock County Expo Center’s efforts, visit

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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - At this point one year ago, the steering committee was expecting steady progress on the highly-anticipated Lubbock County Expo Center, but the ground hasn’t even been broken yet and it’s unclear when the center will finally become a reality.

“We’re just not able to go out there and start moving some dirt like we were hoping we’d be able to,” chairman Randy Jordan said.

The new venture was expected to be complete by April 2022, but now it’s at least 18 months behind.

“We went from having our foot on the accelerator, talking about planning and schematic design, fundraising one day, hitting the brakes the next,” he said.

The county approved the zoning change for the plot of land at North Loop 289 and North University in March 2020. A week later, the pandemic hit.

That was the first roadblock to set the project back. Now, a soft economy and skyrocketing construction costs have paused it indefinitely.

READ MORE: Low hotel occupancy pushes back timeline for Lubbock County Expo Center

“The best thing for us to do right now: be patient, control the things that we can control. So when these costs and things do moderate and the economy does come back, we’ll be ready to begin construction. To say when that’s going to be, nobody knows,” Jordan said.

But despite the delays, the committee hasn’t lost sight of its final goal.

“It’s taken more steps, longer than we had anticipated, but we’re going to get there. And when we do, the people of Lubbock County are going to be very, very proud of what we’re putting together,” he said.

They don’t have a new cost estimate right now, other than the $60 million that’s already been projected.

But there is some good news. Jordan reports the hotel occupancy tax (HOT) and the short-term car rental tax, that are partially funding the project, are doing better and better each month.

READ MORE: What to expect for the future Lubbock County Expo Center

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That sure is a nice picture up above of the proposed Lubbock County Expo Center. I'd love to take an actual picture of the construction of the building, but I can't because there is no building despite all plans originally pointing to 2022 as the big grand opening.

In 2018, voters in Lubbock County voted for the picture above, a Lubbock County Expo Center. Missing were details like total cost, design, etc., but voters approved the plan with an overwhelming 65% of the vote.

It's now 2021 and dirt still isn't moving and we don't know the final cost of the building or how much has been raised by the steering committee behind the building. In February, it was reported by KAMC that the project wouldn't open until April of 2023 with a price tag $50 million dollars. But there still hasn't been any firm amount given on how much money will come from the hotel/motel tax and how much will have to be raised privately.

Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic hurt fundraising plans and the timeline to open the building and the fact that building supplies are skyrocketing in price can't help either. So what is the future for the Lubbock County Expo Center? I think we are at the point now of seriously asking if this project will ever get built.

According to a report from KCBD on Thursday, the construction of the Lubbock County Expo Center is delayed "indefinitely". Randy Jordan, Chairman of the steering committee cited economic factors and the pandemic as reasons why there is now no timeline for the Lubbock County Expo Center. The cost of the project is now being mentioned at $60 million dollars, but there has been no mention of how much money has been raised and is in the bank for the Expo Center.

The folks behind the Lubbock County Expo Center are glad to see travel picking back up, but it sound like they have a long ways to go before dirt begins to move. If it ever does move.

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Nearly a year later, Lubbock County Expo Center making some progress

Three years ago, Lubbock County voters overwhelmingly said, “Yes” to to the development of a new multipurpose arena in Lubbock County that would be capable of hosting a variety of events.

Those events would be including, but not limited to concerts, family shows, sporting events, community and high school sporting events and ceremonies, rodeos and other agricultural and equestrian shows.

While not enough has been discussed since this great vote – to be paid for by Hotel Occupancy Taxes (HOT) and care rental taxes, along with fundraising – much passion has been behind the process since voters agreed this would be an economic addition to Lubbock.

It’s time we continue communicating our efforts. While the Corona Virus impacted so many major projects across our country, it has not derailed us. Yes, there have been speed bumps. Construction costs have gone up. Fundraising has been more difficult. Yet, we believe in doing things right and doing it right the first time.

Please follow us on Facebook as we keep you updated on your vote. You have asked. We will deliver.

We’ve listened. Now, we look forward to letting you know more about how your vote will enhance our community’s quality of life and for our children’s futures.


Center lubbock expo

Lubbock City Council gives final approval to expo center location

The City Council approved a zone change allowing the Lubbock County Expo Center to be built in North Lubbock.

Tuesday’s vote was the final vote on the issue that took hours, on multiple evenings, to be approved. It was first voted on by the city’s planning and zoning committee, then twice by the city council. Each vote followed hours of public comment and deliberation.

With the council’s approval, the Lubbock County Expo Center is set to go at North Loop 289 and University Avenue.

“This was a big step,” said Randy Jordan, chairman of the expo center steering committee. “This is exciting, this is exciting for the people of Lubbock County. This is going to be great.”

The final vote on Tuesday was 5-2, with Mayor Dan Pope and Council members Jeff Griffith, Latrelle Joy, Steve Massengale and Randy Christian voting in favor. Council members Juan Chadis and Shelia Patterson Harris voted no.

With the council’s approval, Jordan said the committee will move forward with the final design and engineering work. The committee has also begun the fundraising efforts to make up any difference between the bonds the taxes can support, and the cost of the facility.

The vote followed about an hour of public comment on Tuesday. There was no public hearing, so each speaker was limited to three minutes during the general public comment period. More than 10 citizens spoke out against the location.

Opposition came mostly from residents of the Hillcrest neighborhood located more than a half mile north of the site. Residents will drive on University Avenue past the site to reach their neighborhood, so they have concerns about traffic and emergency services during and after large events.

Traffic is the key concern, although opponents have also discussed concerns with noise, odor from the livestock, the impact it could have on property values, trash and the unknown of what commercial facilities will be built nearby as a result.

Patterson Harris said hearing from the residents in Hillcrest reminded her of complaints from residents in her district — who are forced to live near manufacturing facilities and auditoriums despite the disruptions.

Chadis pointed out that most of the advocates for this location don’t live near it, and said his vote is in line with the nearby residents.

A former employee of the nearby Lubbock State School also spoke in opposition on Tuesday, telling the council the activity and other stimulants will be a significant distraction for the students at the school.

Residents in East Lubbock had previously spoken about wanting the expo center east of Interstate 27, believing it would bring business and jobs to the area. Members of the South Plains Fair Board spoke at the previous meeting in support of building it at their property.

Jordan said he first envisioned the project at the fairgrounds or elsewhere east of the I-27 as well, but said no locations were suitable. In all, Jordan said more than 15 locations in Lubbock County were looked at for the expo center, and the proposed site was chosen for accessibility, affordability and visibility.

The council heard from the city’s public works department, who said traffic should not be an issue, and from fire and police chiefs, who said responding to calls in the neighborhood shouldn’t be an issue, either.

"I can’t emphasize the time and the hours we spent looking at the things that we talked about tonight,“ Jordan said. ”(This location) fits. We’ve got room to grow, it gives us that flexibility, and it gives us a number of things we didn’t see anywhere else.“

The original zoning request was to change about 133 acres of land from residential use to Interstate Highway Commercial. But the Lubbock County Expo Center and its parking lot is only going to be about 80 acres, at least in the beginning. Rather than granting the zone change for all 133 acres, the council amended the zone change, granting only 100 or so acres for just the expo center.

A strip of land between the existing Stripes Convenience Store and Kent Street going north and south, and between University Avenue and about 300 feet going east, will stay zoned residential. This also means any other development would likely need council approval.

Another stipulation approved by the council is that if a building permit for the expo center isn’t issued in 30 months, the land reverts back to residential.

Joy was the only member of the council who changed her vote from first and second reading. Joy voted against the zoning request on first reading, and voted for it on Tuesday.

Lubbock County Expo Center - No Details Yet, But Expect Them Prior To Election

Two years after vote, progress on Lubbock County expo center slowly continues

A sign sits at the sight of the future Lubbock County Expo Center

Two years have passed since Lubbock voters approved an increase to the local hotel/motel tax, as well as the rental car tax, to pay for a future Lubbock County Expo Center.

The future attraction will host dirt events, as well as concerts and other medium-size gatherings. Rodeos, livestock shows, cattle sales, monster truck shows and similar events will have a home at the venue. For a large city in rural West Texas, an expo center was deemed a must.

Demolishing the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, where equestrian activities used to take place, further added to the need.

About 65% of Lubbock County voters who cast ballots said yes to the expo center in November 2018. Two years have passed, and the facility is still in the planning stages with no firm timeline on when construction will start or when the expo center will be open.

There was a glimmer of hope when county commissioners met last week to discuss the progress on the expo center.

County Commissioners were told by Garfield Public/Private, the lead development team, that construction could begin by the end of 2021. Several factors would need to fall into place — design and engineering would need to be completed, a guaranteed maximum price for construction needs to be agreed upon, county commissioners need to issue the bonds, the steering committee needs to fundraise enough to cover any additional cost, and the plan for how it'll operate needs to be set.

Randy Jordan, chairman of the expo center's steering committee, says COVID-19 has slowed progress. Yet, he said the project is moving forward, and he said he's optimistic.

Randy Jordan

"The Expo Center is alive and well," Jordan said Tuesday. "I'll be the first to say it's not as far along as we'd like it to be, but we're moving. We're not moving as fast as we want, but we are in motion. I don't want anybody to lose hope or lose sight of the fact that it's going to be something we need for Lubbock."

The majority of the funds for construction will come from hotel, motel and rental car taxes. Travel, however, has dropped in 2020, and will likely remain down during the course of the pandemic. 

Lubbock County began collecting the 2% hotel/motel tax and the 5% rental car tax in July 2019. In the first six months of collecting the tax, Jordan said it collected an average of $228,000 per month. In the first nine months of 2020, Jordan said it's collecting an average of about $171,000 per month.

County Judge Curtis Parrish said property taxes aren't going to pay a single cent on the bond the county will issue for construction of the project. He said the county will be conservative on the bond to make sure the funds collected on the hotel/motel and rental car taxes can pay it off.

Curtis Parrish

With future collection unknown, Parrish said a lot of final decisions still need to be made.

"We need to be making decisions as to how big a facility and what it's going to look like based on the money that we are anticipating coming in," Parrish said. "We've got to make sure that we have the project on a solid financial footing before we begin. So that being said, we'll need to know what the size and the scope of the project is, and we need to have all the funding secured before we start turning dirt."

The estimated price of the expo center has ranged from $30 million to $50 million, and the steering committee has said private funds will be raised to help pay for construction if the taxes can't entirely pay for it. According to previous articles in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the steering committee has hopes to build a $50 million facility with an arena, a warm-up area, an exhibit hall for events like livestock shows, a large concourse and entry lobby, plus enough parking space for the large trailers.

Jordan is the lead fundraiser. He told the county commissioners last week the virus has impacted fundraising, as well.

"We had to slow down fundraising because there's never been a tougher time in recent history to ask anybody for money," Jordan said. "When you've got people trying to survive and trying to keep businesses open, it makes it tough."

Jordan said the steering committee has received $1.8 million in cash donations and about $6 million in pledges. Jordan told commissioners last week the steering committee has secured a $10 million endowment from an anonymous foundation for operational and maintenance purposes once it's built. 

He said the committee is negotiating naming rights on the facility, as well.

When the economy does bounce back, Jordan said, progress on the expo center will start to take shape. He said this is a matter of when, not if. And he's hoping it'll be sometime next year.

Until then, Jordan, the rest of the steering committee, and the county commissioners are working to get the planning in place. 

In April, commissioners approved a beginning $5 million bond to fund the preliminary work related to the future expo center. 

MWM Architects has been hired as lead architects. Garfield Public/Private has been hired as the lead development team. Land has been purchased near University Avenue and North Loop 289 for the location, and the Lubbock City Council approved the rezoning request after several contentious public hearings featuring residents near the  Hillcrest Country Club in opposition.

Lee Lewis Construction has also been hired as the construction manager. 

Commissioners were told last week the schematic designs on the expo center are nearing completion, and the beginning designs should be completed by the end of January 2021. Input from the steering committee, as well as organizations to use the facility, will be included in the final designs.

Parrish said a feasibility study is also in the works, which in part will determine the size the venue should be.

Garfield Public/Private also said expectations on bonding capacity will be presented to the county in early 2021.

Something getting discussed more often is building the facility in phases, with the dirt arena getting built first.

"We're going to design and plan like we always have," Jordan said. "Then we'll take it step-by-step. We hope to get all of it in one package, but if not, we may have to do it in phases. That's the reality we're all living with right now. We're planning and designing the whole package, knowing we may have to phase it in."

Once the schematic designs are complete, design development and then construction documents will be completed. Garfield Public/Private says the final construction documents could be wrapped up as soon as August 2021.

With the designs, the county will know the final price of construction. The county will also get updated on the operations of the facility — how many events it'll host and what the budget will look like.

Parrish and Jordan didn't offer a timeline of when they think construction will start. Both just said it's moving forward, just at a slow pace.

At the next meeting, county commissioners will be appointing nine members to a Lubbock County Expo Center Local Government Corporation. This group of citizens will help make decisions on behalf of the county, Parrish said.

Jordan often gets asked about what's going on with the expo center, and he responds by saying it's still in the works, but COVID has made it a challenge. He said the timeline is straightforward - they're moving as rapidly as they can, and they want to have it completed as soon as possible.

Early renderings of what the Lubbock County Expo Center could look like.

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