National Western complex overhaul gets a $250M boost from state

May 21, 2015
Photo: John Hickenlooper signs National Western bill
A new law will provide state funding for renovations to the National Western Stock Show complex. But Denver officials still have work to do to secure the money needed for the massive project that could help remake northeast part of the city.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Wednesday that sends $250 million toward the project, which will transform the aging stock show grounds. 
Among the features will be a Colorado State University-backed agricultural research facilities, and a state of the art equestrian center. Other partners include History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. 
Supporters say the project will create the Silicon Valley of agriculture. 
"It's time to take the stock show to the next level and make it a showcase for our agricultural industry," said state Sen. Pat Steadman of Denver, who helped sponsor the bipartisan bill.
To ensure that happens, Denver officials will have to work on getting more money for the project. 
Even with financing coming from the state and CSU, the city will need to secure more funding for a project whose price tag could eventually exceed $1 billion.
Denver Chief Financial Officer Cary Kennedy said city voters will soon be asked to OK a large sum of that funding -- roughly $450 million -- by agreeing to extend existing lodging and car-rental taxes.
“The good news here is we don't need a tax increase. There's no new taxes, no tax rate increases. This is just leaving in place the taxes that are in place today that our tourists pay," he said.
City officials will also seek federal grant money to help fill the funding gaps.