National Western Stock Show’s Overhaul Goes Before Denver Voters

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Photo: Rendering of the new expo hall at the proposed National Western Center
Rendering of a proposed trade show/exhibition hall at the National Western Stock Show grounds in Northwest Denver.

The National Western Stock Show draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the state -- and beyond -- to Denver. But the Stock Show's facilities are run down, and city and state officials see an opportunity for a bigger, more modern complex that attracts more national-caliber events. To do that, they want Denver residents' help paying for the nearly $1 billion price tag, so voters will decide this fall whether to permanently extend a tax on hotels and rental cars that's currently set to expire in 2023. It's measure 2C on Denver ballots. But the state has raised concerns about the project's financial viability.

Kelly Leid heads the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, a city office guiding six development projects in north Denver, including the proposed stock show redevelopment. He spoke with Ryan Warner. Edited highlights are below.

Photo: Rendering of new stock yards and river crossing at the National Western CenterLeid on the proposed venue with the greatest potential to draw tourists:

"The growth of the equestrian center is a key part of creating more incremental tourism and attracting those national shows and those international shows. And it'll put us in a very small class of places in the country that can actually host those big shows."

On the potential impact on the Elyria Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods:

"We start every conversation and end every conversation about how does this help reconnect and re-energize these three historic neighborhoods. These are three neighborhoods that have seen no sizeable infrastructure investment for three decades."

On why the tax measure on the ballot is important to the city's master plan:

"The very premise and the core funding stream is this extension of visitor taxes. So we would have to come back together as a group -- the city, Colorado State University and the Western Stock Show Association -- and certainly determine what we would move forward on, but obviously it would require a completely different funding source."