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National Western Complex Makeover Could Take Years

By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4)- With an overwhelming majority of Denver voters approving the extension of a lodging tax to go toward revitalizing the National Western Complex, CBS4 found out on the eve of the stock show that construction could take years, if not a decade.

"We just got to show a little patience and know that the people working on it are going to work as quickly as possible," said Paul Andrews, the President and CEO of the National Western Stock Show.

02-1909 Stadium National western

In November 2015, initiative 2C was approved by voters 65 percent to 35 percent. The plans for the stock show revitalization project are over $1 billion.

"It took us 110 years to get to the conditions we're in today, we're not going to pull ourselves out of it in one or two or three (years). This is going to take multiple (mayoral) administrations," said Kelly Leid, the Executive Director of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative.

After this year's stock show wraps up, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is expected to announce a team in the city to specifically lead the National Western Center project forward. Construction of the new RTD North commuter rail route will start on the campus. The city is also working to buy 70 acres before more construction can begin.

01-Expo Hall National western

"After we buy the land we will begin the demolition of facilities that we're not going to need for the new project. So this time next year we're probably going to be doing some demolition and some site remediation," said Leid. "My hope is as early as 2018 we'll actually see some initial improvements of the work we'll be doing in the next couple years."

Many aspects of the current complex will change.

"One our stadium arena was built in 1909, it will be maintained and redone. Another is the livestock exchange building and those are historic structures that are in the master plan," said Andrews.

03-Concert Yards National western

The hope is the city's $1 billion investment will pay off not just for the stock show but the entire North Denver area.

"The National Western Stock Show will forever be maintaining its current course. We're going to have the 110th this year, 111th next year, 112th the year after, it's going to continue on without interruption," said Andrews.

National Western Stock Show 2015 (2)
National Western Stock Show (credit: CBS)

"First and foremost it secures the stock shows sustainability for another 100 years in Denver, Colorado at this historic site," Leid said. "This place is going to become a year round destination where we not only celebrate our pioneering west, but we explore global food production and global food safety issues."

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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