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September 22, 2023

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Rodeo arena torn down for new facility

April 26, 2007

The rodeo arena on Lab Farm 1 was torn down last week to prepare for the beginning stages of excavation for the new facility to be erected in its place.

The rodeo arena served the University’s needs for over 20 years, but due to its age and poor conditions, the Rodeo Club decided it was time for an upgrade.

“Footing for animals was poor and the lighting was insufficient,” Rodeo Club member Dan Baugh said.

Nathan O’Connor, professor of animal science, is a strong proponent for the new facility, and its many improvements.

“The main reason for the new facility is the safety issue,” O’Connor said. “The previous facility was unacceptable for the public viewing the events.”

Due to the age and the inadequacy of the facility to properly accommodate the animals, the University aided the Rodeo Club to increase safety and efficiency.

“The whole facility was due for a major revamping,” Vice President of the Rodeo Club Mitch Whyte said.

The new features will include a new ground footing for the livestock, which includes six inches of hard limestone base and two-and-a-half inches of sand on top. This is designed mainly for jumping horses.

“The animals, horses in particular, can move very well on this surface, and it will [be] more of a horse-friendly arena,” Whyte said.

The facility will also be equipped with a new stock handling system. This is an alley where the livestock can easily make their way into the arena from the new holding pens being built.

“This feature will make it less stressful and not as congested,” Baugh said.

With the addition of this feature, the animals will be able to move into the arena with less contact and easier to handle.

The new arena will benefit the surrounding community. The facility will be available for rent, which will bring more shows and attention to the University.

“The facility can be used for many different classes and clubs on campus as well,” O’Connor said.

Upon completion of the new arena, River Falls will be home to a facility with top-of-the-line equipment and features.

“This facility will be superior to anything in the state,” Baugh said.

The facility will cost $60,000 to $70,000. The project was originally estimated at $158,000 with all of the features that the club wanted to get, Baugh said.

It was due to donations and sponsorships that the club was able to take care of more than half the costs.

“F & K Excavating is donating a lot of time and effort to the project,” Baugh said.

Other donations and sponsorships came from community companies as well as fundraisers put on by the Rodeo Club.

Money not coming from donations will be coming out of an account that the Rodeo Club set up with the University to borrow money with a letter of intent to pay the money back.

Excavation for the new arena is scheduled within the next week, and it will be open for shows in the summer.

“Once completed, the arena will be one of the premiere outdoor facilities in the Midwest,” Whyte said.

The opening ceremony for the arena will be in the fall when the first rodeo is scheduled.

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