Victoria event center would feature 8,500-seat concert arena

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Jan. 14, 2013 at 5 p.m.
Updated Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.

A rendering of the proposed Victoria Events Center.

A rendering of the proposed Victoria Events Center.

Ice hockey leagues, world-class rodeos and a full-service hotel might not be far off for Victoria.

Two Victoria businessmen are proposing to build a 500-acre, multi-use facility east of Zac Lentz Parkway at Airline Road.

Rawley McCoy, president of the architecture firm Rawley McCoy and Associates, and Steve Roth, president of Roth Construction, presented 18 months of research and full-color schematics to the Victoria County Commissioners Court on Monday.

The preliminary plan includes an event center, facilities for stock shows and athletics, a full-service hotel such as Mariott or Hilton and retail space.

McCoy said the event center will have capacity of 8,500 for concerts and 6,500 for rodeos or sporting events. The center is also planned to host trade shows for the boating or outdoors industry, oil and gas industry or Caterpillar, McCoy said.

However, neither answered the looming question: with what money?

McCoy said it is "premature" to get into the details of finances.

"Every major entity in Victoria has to join hands and make this happen," McCoy said. "The key is everybody needs to participate."

The next step is to develop a business plan and an economic analysis, which could take 60 days.

Commissioners showed support Monday in a letter titled "Cooperative Expression of Interest." The letter was not a commitment to funding.

During the meeting, Roth said the facility "strictly would be funded by us," with no commitment on the county. Later, he said it would likely be a private-public partnership including the city, county and other players.

While McCoy did not confirm whether they would push for a bond issue, he said the city needs to "invest in itself" if residents want businesses to invest in the community.

Roth said the idea of a "real events center" has been talked about for several years.

Because of the growth and impact of new plants in the community, the time is finally appropriate, he said.

"If the stock show wants to bring in entertainment, we really don't have a facility for it," Roth said. "There's really not a facility for big expositions."

Roth said he wanted to continue gathering input for the project. Already the firms teamed up with Victoria College, University of Houston-Victoria, the livestock community, the city and the county.

County Judge Don Pozzi said it is "a wonderful concept."

"This is the finest thing that could happen to this community," Pozzi said.

Commissioner Clint Ives commended the two men for their plan and the placement in his Precinct 4.

"You could not have picked a better precinct to put it in," Ives joked.

The proposed site is a portion of several thousand acres owned by Buhler Telferner, which is valued at $547,980, according to Victoria County Appraisal District.

Roth and McCoy are counting on an extension of Airline Road past the loop for connectivity to the facility.

Public Works Director Lynn Short said an eastern Airline Road extension is not currently on the capital improvement program (CIP) list.

"Several years ago, when there was some talk about a university out there, it was on the radar," Short said. "It's been taken off the CIP, so currently there are no plans for it. That doesn't mean that couldn't change, but there are currently no plans."

Whether the new facility could threaten the existing community center or bond-funded sports complex is unconfirmed.

Victoria Parks and Recreation Director Doug Cochran said the city has a history of working with the school district and county "in trying to enhance the quality of life in Victoria."

"We'll certainly work with other groups that have improved facilities like that," Cochran said.

McCoy grew up in Victoria and has since adopted the philosophy that what is good for the city is good for everyone.

"If we want to be bigger and better as a community, we need to start thinking bigger and better, or we'll just continue to sit and never (realize) our potential," McCoy said.



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