Missouri State Fair supporters launch fundraising campaign for new arena

Saturday, February 19, 2011 | 4:20 p.m. CST

SEDALIA — The Missouri State Fair Foundation has started a campaign to raise private funds for a new $726,000 livestock arena at the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.

The new arena at the Missouri State Fairgrounds would be connected to the existing livestock coliseum, which was built more than 100 years ago. The new facility is designed to provide a place with a roof for contest participants to prepare their horses and cattle out of the heat and without getting them wet and muddy. The facility was not intended to have walls.

This past December, the Missouri Development Finance Board offered several hundred thousand dollars in state tax credits to help recruit private donors. The finance board can award credits equal to 50 percent of the private contributions for a project. For the arena at the fairgrounds, the state finance board is awarding up to $343,000 in tax credits in exchange for $686,000 in donations to the project.

It is the second time in the 25-year history of its tax credit program that the Missouri Development Finance Board has awarded credits to a state project. Most of the members of the finance board are appointed by the governor.

The Sedalia Democrat reported that the Missouri State Fair Foundation was starting its capital campaign to raise private money for the arena. The State Fair is held each year in Sedalia, which is about halfway between Kansas City and Jefferson City.

Jeremy Parsons, the foundation's executive secretary, said the new arena would be used during the fair each summer and would help attract more livestock shows during the off-season. Parsons said the state incentives could help to spur donations from people, business and agriculture industry groups.

"We really just want to encourage all Missourians to be a part of this project," Parsons said.

State Fair Director Mark Wolfe said last year that some equine events previously held at the state fairgrounds have moved elsewhere because there was no covered practice area. Officials said they hoped to complete the fundraising for the new arena in three years and build the facility in 2013 or 2014.

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