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Alliance of business leaders wants to repair, improve Livestock Events Center

By Kristen Hackbarth

An alliance of community business leaders on Tuesday presented a plan for a reinvigoration of the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center to the Washoe Board of County Commissioners. 

The Nevada Western Heritage Center Alliance, represented by developer Perry DiLoreto and auto dealership owner Tom Dolan, asked commissioners for a resolution in support of their effort so they could move it forward with the state. 

“A lot of us have recognized for a long time that there is a need to address issues at the Livestock Events Center,” Di Loreto said. “It has served our community well … but it’s time we pay some more attention to it.”

DiLoreto estimates the events center has $13-$15 million in deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed.

One of the challenges it faces is a long chain of custody. The facility is owned by the State of Nevada and leased to Washoe County. The county has a contract with Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) to manage the facility, and RSCVA contracts with ASM Global for sales and management of it. 

On top of all that, the Nevada Junior Livestock Show Board has oversight of the facility while the  Reno Rodeo has exclusive use rights during its annual rodeo dates. 

The Reno Rodeo on June 22, 2021. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

Rodeo officials were among the first to spearhead an effort to explore improvements to the event center and arena. They formed the Reno Rodeo Legacy Committee in 2015, and after a five-year effort the committee has reached 30% design completion on a grand plan for the property.

The Nevada Western Heritage Center Alliance plans to pick up where the Reno Rodeo Legacy Committee left off, which is working with the community and local agencies to gain support for their vision for the property. They are also hoping to secure some of the millions in infrastructure funds arriving in the state by way of the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the improvements.

The alliance’s plan, which would involve their nonprofit taking over interim management of the event center, would allow them to address the maintenance issues while allowing operations and events to continue, DiLoreto said. 

The phased plan would cost about $80 million and would include updates to the exhibition hall, indoor arena, and general infrastructure improvements. A second phase would be a new outdoor arena, and the third phase would see the development of a parking garage, vendor plaza and elevated walkway. 

Commission Chair Vaughn Hartung said he saw real opportunities for the project. Updating the property would tie in with the western end of the Regional Transportation Commission’s Oddie-Wells corridor improvements and dovetail with the gentrification projects happening on Oddie Boulevard, he added. 

“I believe that this would really help to gentrify this area,” Hartung said. “Is it going to be easy? No. But will it ultimately be worth it and is it going to make this area better? I believe it will.”

Commissioner Bob Lucey, who has also been a member of the RSCVA’s board for the past seven years, said the RSCVA is tasked with managing four events centers and has been challenged to keep up with maintenance, especially with the recent economic downturn and pandemic. 

He urged the community to look past what it can’t do and look to what it can do while also embracing northern Nevada’s heritage. He said the NWHCA’s plan invests back into the community in a way that helps re-establish the community’s identity.

County staff was directed by Commissioner Lucey to bring back a resolution in support of the NWHCA for discussion.

Other commission business

Briefs provided by Washoe County and edited by This Is Reno. 

Commissioners approved amended allocations of American Rescue Plan Act funds. Increasing construction costs required several of the contracts for projects approved by the commissioners to be amended. The contracts are for projects including the Safe Camp Capital project in a total amount of $4,693,132 (an increase of $193,132 over the $4,500,000 allocated and approved by the Board on July 20, 2021); Our Place enhancements project in a total amount of $926,477 (an increase of $476,477 over the $450,000 allocated and approved by the Board on December 14, 2021); and the Our Place Community Garden Fencing project. a total amount of $164,377 (an increase of $34,377 over the $130,000 allocated and approved by the Board on December 14, 2021).

Board approves agreement for services to operate a Housing Stability Self-Help Desk. Commissioners approved a final allocation of the $6.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the Washoe Housing Assistance for COVID Relief Program for Washoe Legal Services to operate a Housing Stability Self-Help Desk at the Reno Justice Court, beginning May 11, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2022. 

The Self-Help Desk will provide housing stability services to county residents facing eviction and other forms of housing instability, including assistance completing court-related forms related to eviction mediation, notarizing court paperwork, providing referrals and resources for legal advice and assisting people with rental assistance. 

Short Term Rental Ordinance amendment approved. Commissioners voted to adopt an ordinance amending Washoe County Code governing Short Term Rentals (STRs). Based on public meetings with residents and STR owners, the Community Services Department presented suggested revisions to the STR code at the January 25, 2022 Board of County Commissioners meeting, many of which were adopted Tuesday. Ordinance changes include modifying the maximum occupancy calculation, minimum insurance requirements, overflow parking spaces in condominium or multi-family complexes in the calculation of required parking spaces, and providing that a bear box is required in the Incline Village General Improvement District’s service territory following two confirmed trash violations.

Commissioner Alexis Hill, who represents the district where a majority of the county’s STRs are, said “These changes are really necessary, and they provide some great next steps over the next year to make this code a better code for those who own STRs and our community.”

Reconsideration of Highland Village phase II fails. Commissioner Jeanne Herman requested a reconsideration of the commission’s decision to create a development agreement with Highland Village developer Ken Krater to limit the density of the project to five units or fewer per acre. The project was previously approved by the planning commission at a higher density. As part of Herman’s request to reconsider the need for a development agreement, Krater provided comment that the density requirements could be better met through zoning changes. Commissioners voted not to reconsider the item and sent it back to staff to continue with the development agreement.

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