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Shelby Show Place Renovation


2017/11/02



By Tommy Brannon

On October 11, 2017 John Butler, President of Agricenter International in Memphis, Tennessee, announced the commencement of some major renovations to the Shelby Show Place Arena. The renovation will take place in three phases and is expected to be completed by the spring of 2019. Jamie White, Manager of the Show Place Arena, said that these renovations have been in the planning stages for over seven years. John gave most of the credit for the conception and planning of the project to his predecessor John Charles Wilson, who retired in 2016, and is the projects manager.
This is the first capital improvement project since the arena was constructed in the 1980s. The total cost is around seventeen million dollars.

The first phase, at a cost of six million dollars, will be improvements to the warm up arena, which has gotten pretty dilapidated over the past 27 years.  The design work was done byFleming Architects and construction will be by F & F Construction of Memphis.  Work will include a new, fresh look to the warm-up arena exterior, new meeting rooms, patio, and entryway gate. A covered walkway is planned to link the warm up arena with the outdoor covered arena. This will enable riders to go from the warm up arena to either covered arenas out of the rain. This first phase has been made possible by a grant from the State of Tennessee. A three million mollar grant was originally provided by the Shelby County Government for long range planning of the Aricenter campus, and Wilson was able to utilize the expertise of Populous, an international arena design firm.

  Jamie White said that the main arena was built before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and many of the renovations are being done to bring the building into compliance, such as restrooms, seating, and wheelchair access. The existing concession stand will be relocated and enlarged, the restrooms updated, new seating will be added, and the arena itself will be increased in size on the south end. The design work on the interior renovations to the main arena is by Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects and construction work will be done by Jaycon Development Corporation, pending Shelby County Commission approval. 

The Shelby Show Place Arena is self sustaining and does not draw operating expenses from the Shelby County government. These improvements should make the facility more attractive to horse shows and other usage and, thus, stay booked. John Butler said there is a real advantage to having this facility inside an urban setting, with close access to hotels, restaurants, shopping, and other entertainment. This is especially good for those who are attending long-running horse shows, such as the recent eight day National Walking Horse Association show, “The National,” which took place October 2-7, 2017. This show alone had an estimated two hundred thousand dollar positive impact on the Memphis economy. Competitors came from as far away as California, Nevada, and Michigan.

Butler stated that since the Agricenter is located in Shelby Farms Park, he and Jen Andrews, the CEO of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, have a great working relationship. Millions of people utilize the park, which consists of 4,500 acres (one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.), and it has a $524 million annual economic impact. These renovations and improvements to the Show Place Arena should add to that substantially.

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