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The project is slated for completion in September 2023.
SBJ file
The project is slated for completion in September 2023.

Ozark Empire Fairgrounds breaking ground on $25M arena

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Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center is slated to break ground this week on an arena and youth agriculture education center with a higher-than-expected price tag.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled 2 p.m. Nov. 17 for the 99,000-square-foot building, according to a news release.

"This new arena, coupled with other construction and improvements in recent years, will solidify our position as one of the finest entertainment venues in not only the Springfield area, but the entire Midwest,” fairgrounds General Manager Aaron Owen said in the release. “It will be perfect for fair use, rodeos, horse shows and junior national livestock expositions, trade shows, motorsports, sporting events and concerts.”

The $25 million project cost is up from an estimate of $15 million earlier this year. Reached via email, Owen cited a higher price of materials, with steel expenses and the cost of the facility's bleachers contributing the most to the increase.

Owen said Ozark Empire Fair would serve as its own general contractor for the project designed by BRP Architects. Killian Construction Co. is the construction management company for the project, which is slated for completion in mid-September 2023, Owen added.

The project is designed with seating for 6,600 visitors, which is triple the capacity of the fairgrounds’ former facility, according to the release. The arena is designed with a restaurant and a VIP room on the upper mezzanine, and the lower level will have a 10,000-square-foot youth ag center and 10,000-square-foot trade show space.

The arena project is the second of a three-phase plan launched in 2020, according to past reporting. Phase I was the construction of a $1.5 million, 45,000-square-foot multipurpose building, dubbed the Central Buildings Event Center, and Phase III calls for the addition of 400 campsites to the fairgrounds.

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