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National Western staying in Denver

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post/Associated Press file photo

Mark Bukowski, director of the Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association, wrangles Texas longhorn as they head up 17th Street in Denver during the National Western Stock Show. The city of Denver is looking at ways to market and use the 95-acre facility used by the show to help pay for $100 million in needed repairs.

By P. SOLOMON BANDA
Associated Press

DENVER – The 106-year-old National Western Stock Show wants to stay in Denver despite facing $100 million in maintenance needs, show officials say.

“We are not moving out of Denver at any time, period,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the show. “We are going to work to try to expand on the site.”

The announcement last week appeared to put an end to the show’s plans to build facilities away from the city’s historic stockyards, which now are surrounded by homes and businesses.

Mayor Michael Hancock and other Denver officials said they did not know how much it would cost the city, but they’re exploring ways to market and use the 95-acre complex for events year-round to help generate money for maintenance and other improvements.

“We had to get over the question, is it going to stay in Denver? We have that answer now. It’s staying in Denver,” Hancock said during a news conference.

Dubbed the Super Bowl of stock shows, the 16-day event in January features rodeos and events such as sheep-shearing or dog-agility contests. It also acts as a convention for ranchers who attend the show to find bulls and cows that are bred for size.

Thousands of livestock, including llamas and bison, pass through the grounds of the stock show, and attendance often tops 600,000 and leaves a $100 million economic impact every year, show and city officials said.

Stock show officials had considered moving to the east Denver suburb of Aurora, and the two cities jointly applied for state subsidies to help build a new facility and a hotel. Denver pulled out of the deal last December after some city councilors raised concerns about losing the show.

“It’s an institution that’s part of our Western heritage – something that we identify with. Just about every kid in Denver has gone through the stock show or will go through the stock show,” Hancock said.

Each year, hundreds of Texas longhorn cattle are herded through downtown Denver. The grand champion steer is escorted down a red carpet into the lobby of the luxurious Brown Palace Hotel.

The complex has several buildings, including a 4,777-seat event center, nearly 350,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 6,600-seat stadium arena and the nearby Denver Coliseum, which seats 10,500, as well as the historic animal stalls and stockyards.

The stock show competes with at least five others across the country, including the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo that overlaps the Denver show in late January.

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