$1 Billion Redo for National Western

Venue management to shift gears at National Western Complex

  • by Noelle Riley
  • Published: September 13, 2017

National Western Stock Show and Complex, Denver, is getting a $1-billion upgrade.

As it currently stands, the National Western Stock Show Association books all events on the massive 90-acre complex along a major interstate on the outskirts of Denver — but that all will change when a new partnership is formed.

“We are in the process of getting city council’s approval on what’s been called the framework agreement between the Western Stock Show Association, Colorado State University, and the city, on how the National Western Campus will operate for the next 100 years,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show and Complex.

That means that the management of the various venues on the stock show campus will change in the next three to five years, potentially opening up opportunities for venue management companies, Andrews said.

Each year, the complex hosts roughly 250 events, all organized and managed by Andrews’ team. Yet $1 billion in renovations and upgrades to the grounds will shift Andrews into solely managing the National Western Stock Show, which is a 501 (c) 3, each January, the Rodeo All-Star Weekend and the Denver County Fair.

An authority, that has not yet been formed, will manage the rest of the grounds — or hire a company to do it — and the venues on the complex.

Denver City Council is expected to approve a new business model at its Sept. 17 meeting. An authority will then be formed of 11 members, which includes Andrews and his board chair.

“That authority will then run the day-to-day operations once the build-out is complete,” Andrews said. “The agreement that we’re about to sign allows for the authority to hire a president and CEO that builds a staff to do (venue management) or hires an entity to be a booking agent.”

Phases one and two are estimated to be completed by 2023.

The “build-out” of the complex is massive and will repair the old grounds into a modern-day campus that includes a livestock center with 230,000 sq. ft. of barn space that can be used for expos, a CSU research center, a new 20-acre site for outdoor festivals, and a new 450,000-sq-ft. exposition hall.

“The entire complex brings lots of flexibility with booking concerts, family shows and high school events,” Andrews said.

The first phase includes putting in the new yards this November on a 20-acre site along the Platte River that local promoters can use for outdoor music festivals.

Phase two includes building an equestrian center that has two major arenas inside that range from 2,500 to 4,500 seats depending on the configuration.

After phase two is complete, construction will begin on the 450,000-sq-ft. exposition hall and a new 10,000-seat arena that will replace the outdated 8,300-seat Denver Coliseum that was built in 1951.

The coliseum also will have 40 suites, which the current structure lacks. That venue will be used for concerts, family shows and minor league sports from February to December each year. In January, the coliseum will be occupied by the National Western Stock Show, which celebrates its 116th year in 2018.

Funding for the project was made possible in 2015 when voters approved public funding for the renovations.

The goal for all those involved in the renovation is to keep the agricultural flare alive, even if events don’t center around agriculture, Andrews said.

“Not all of the events on this site are going to be agricultural, but when people are here, they’re going to be exposed to things that are agriculturally related,” he said, highlighting that pictures and ag memorabilia will be displayed everywhere.

“It’s going to be the most unique complex in the country, because it’s doing many, many things to benefit mankind as well as entertain people,” Andrews said, pointing to the CSU Equestrian Center that will handle intense research.

Denver City Council will vote on the following on Sept. 17:

“A bill for an ordinance that… approves a framework agreement with Colorado State University, the Western Stock Show Association, and the National Western Center Authority for 50 years, with two possible 25-year extensions, to authorize formation of an authority to operate the new facilities and govern the roles and responsibilities of each party for the redevelopment of the existing National Western Complex into a year-round venue to preserve the National Western Stock Show in Denver for the next 100 years, provide room for new programming, provide connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods, and bring more visitors to Denver.”


  • by Noelle Riley
  • Published: September 13, 2017