Commissioners eye new fairground proposal
By Rex Hogan
Canadian County commissioners took “a first step” Tuesday to find out what can be done to help build a new fairgrounds that would include a modern multi-purpose event center. The proposed new fairgrounds could be located on county-owned land, just east of the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center on state Highway 66. The site is just west of Banner Road, about halfway between Yukon and El Reno.
Mustang businessman Ken Carpenter, chairman of the Fair Board Building Committee, told commissioners at their regular weekly meeting that the time is right for the county to have a first-class “revenue-raising” events center.
Carpenter said the current fairgrounds in El Reno was created in the 1950s and is not adequate to accommodate events.
The Fair Board Building Committee is proposing a 5,000-seat multi-purpose event center be built on the 160-acre state Highway 66 site. Carpenter said such a center could host a number of events, from high school graduations to agriculture events and sporting events.
Commission Chairman Phil Carson said the county is in need of a center like this. He pointed out Garfield and Grady counties have event centers that host an array of events.
El Reno Mayor Matt White said the idea needs more study.
“I’m not here to pick a fight, but I’m disappointed in the process. I don’t know where you’re posting meeting notices, I haven’t seen one,” White said. “No one has talked to us (the city) and we want to be part of the process. It just seems to me there’s a lot of loose ends.”
Fair Board Building Committee member Dan Wedman of Calumet said the committee “hasn’t talked to any city. We’re not trying to run around you. We’re not operating in a veil of secrecy,” Wedman said.
Commissioner David Anderson recommended county financial advisers be brought into the discussion to help determine the scope of the project.