Rod Slyhoff believes opportunity is knocking and Pueblo is about to open the door.
The president and CEO of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce says the city is embarking upon a $100 million, 30-year project that will ultimately add more tourism attractions throughout the E Street entertainment district that runs along the city's Riverwalk and Union Avenue. The ambitious endeavor has a long, unofficial title – Professional Bull Riders University/Heritage of Heroes Project in the E District – and a variety of plans have already been finalized.
“For example, Pueblo is national headquarters for Professional Bull Riders Inc., so PBR will be establishing a type of university to train promoters, gate openers, bull riders, timekeepers, rodeo clowns and so forth,” Slyhoff says. “PBR is expanding its sport right now into Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico, so building a new university site is needed for all the future training.”
Quite an Exhibition
The 30-year project will also add an exhibition hall to the Pueblo Convention Center in order to attract more consumer shows and amateur athletic events such as indoor volleyball, martial arts, wrestling and cheerleading competitions. There are also plans for Pueblo to eventually have a regional aquatic center, a large parking structure, a boathouse for the Riverwalk, hotel development and private retail development.
“As for the Heritage of Heroes part of the project, Pueblo is home to four Medal of Honor recipients and we want to continue our reputation as one of the most patriotic cities in America,” Slyhoff says. “We will transfer and expand our current Medal of Honor Memorial to a larger facility, and already in 2010 we built a Veterans' Bridge for foot traffic over the Riverwalk, with the bridge leading to another newly opened facility called The Center for American Values.”
Hooray for Cowboys
Slyhoff adds that the Heritage of Heroes aspect will also feature a Heritage Plaza outside the proposed exhibition hall, with not only the military being saluted but also pioneers who founded Pueblo and established steel mills. Also to be honored will be early cowboys who rode the range and herded the cattle, plus there will be tributes to business leaders who have grown the city throughout its history.
As for financing the whole undertaking, Slyhoff says the state of Colorado has established a new funding mechanism for projects of this magnitude, and Pueblo has applied for $32 million in state funding. The city won't know until spring 2012 if it will receive the funding.
“Besides the $32 million, private investment will kick in $55 mllion-$60 million while the city of Pueblo is providing another $23 million – $15 million of which voters approved in 2010,” Slyhoff says. “It all adds up to a little more than $100 million, but even if the state doesn't come through with the $32 million, this project will get done. The city, the Urban Renewal Authority of Pueblo, Pueblo Convention Center and the chamber are all solidly behind this effort. Get ready, everyone, for exciting times.”
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