Austin committee considers recommendations for new expo center

Expo Center Austin City Council will consider recommendations for a new expo center in Travis County on June 7.[/caption]

On April 27 an Austin City Council committee considered recommendations for a new expo center in Travis County that would increase and improve resources for Rodeo Austin and other events.

Hunden Strategic Partners—a consulting company hired by Austin, Travis County and Rodeo Austin last year to evaluate the Travis County Expo Center—found existing facilities are too small and are unable to meet the rising demand for space dedicated to expos, trade shows and similar events.

The Expo Center is located within the 1,872-acre Walter E. Long Park in East Travis County and hosts events such as the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Austin.

Hunden recommends the city spend about $620 million to construct a new expo center with a modern arena, meeting rooms and a rodeo and equestrian facility. Hunden's draft report estimated the annual payment—including interest—for the first phase of the project would be $25.4 million over 30 years. Total project costs—including operating expenses and interest payments on additional project phases—will be available in the final report, scheduled to be presented to City Council June 7, said Brian Block, Austin Parks and Recreation Department's development administrator.

“The facility was built in 1983,"said Block, who presented the consultant's recommendations to the Open Space, Environment and Sustainability Committee April 27. "It’s aging; it’s becoming obsolete."

Hunden reviewed the Center's location, condition and long-range plans; met with stakeholders; and examined industry trends, market trends and comparable facilities to develop recommendations for Austin City Council, according to a Parks and Recreation Department summary of the consultant's report.

Block said the project would create about 5,205 temporary construction jobs and support about 1,200 new and ongoing full-time jobs while bringing in about $110 million in new taxes over 30 years.
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By Emilie Shaughnessy

Emilie covers community news in Central Austin and is the beat reporter for Austin City Council. She started with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 after working as a journalist in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.


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