officials need not worry about relocating the Expo Center at the corner of
Division Rd. and Ind. 49, but the facility stands to benefit from new
additions and remodeling.
the County Commissioners with its analysis of sports complexes on Tuesday,
Bill Krueger with Conventions, Sports & Leisure told what his firm found in
studying the feasibility of the 30 year-old Expo Center and Fairgrounds.
“There is no reason
to relocate. The layout is well-balanced. Things are operating as well as
can be expected,” Krueger said.
Expo staff and
members of the Porter County Fair Board sat in as Krueger stated that a
redeveloped Expo Center would heighten the possibility of growing attendance
for non-fair related events, retain current exhibitors, generate new
visitors and provide a richer quality of life for residents by offering new
events and entertainment options.
officials, tourism bureau members, Expo management, and others, CSL
concluded the Expo is operating on a “break-even” mandate. A larger
exposition space, a new covered arena and stalls for horses, and expanded
Recreational Vehicle parking on the north would increase the Center’s
By expanding the
Center’s exhibition space by 40,000 sq. ft., events could accommodate up to
3,200 additional attendees, attracting new consumer and trade shows.
further on development, Krueger suggested rebuilding the livestock barn and
show arena, adding an overhead cover to grandstand seating, building a new
fair office and installing new entry gates.
also desirable for restrooms, the Buggy Wheel Pavilion, the Expo East, the
4-H building and support buildings.
The grand total for
all refurbishments suggested would be approximately $28 million to $30
million, Krueger said, the most expensive being the Expo Center space
addition, estimated at $8 million, and $3 million for a new covered horse
redevelopment would however generate $13.8 million each year within the
county which is nearly twice the current impact. That translates to 84 new
full-time and part-time jobs throughout Porter County, Krueger said.
ratio according to the study would be $7.91 per each dollar expended by the
County in debt service.
President John Evans, R-North, asked County Auditor Vicki Urbanik how much
money the County could bond for. Urbanik said she’s not sure what the figure
is but said the County currently doesn’t have many lingering debts.
While the County
may decide not to move immediately on new construction, Krueger said
enhancing the Center’ aesthetics to a more modern appearance would be one
step in attracting new visitors.
facilities would however eliminate some spaces for parking, Krueger added,
although a new parking lot is expected near the southwest entry.
President Mark Baird said less parking area would be a concern to him as
typically there are two nights during the fair when parking is at capacity.
Evans said parking
can be discussed whenever there are plans for new construction.
Baird said that he
plans to bring a list to the Commissioners soon of renovations he would like
to see for the upcoming County Fair.