DODGE CITY, Kan. – There is a new look to Roundup Arena, and folks arriving for this year’s rodeo will see it immediately.
A new ticket booth will greet visitors, a way to welcome all who come and to provide a little better protection for the people who assist everyone when they enter the gates. Once inside, there are other upgrades that will provide a better experience for all involved.
“We’re just trying to give our spectators a better experience while also keeping an eye out for everyone’s safety,” said Jerry Pegelow, vice president for the volunteer committee that produces the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2-Sunday, Aug. 6, at Roundup Arena; Dodge City Xtreme Bulls is set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1.
The previous ticket booth had been in place for much of the life of the complex, so with the help of professionals, organizers went to work on replacing it.
“It offered no shade to the ticket-takers who stand there three to four hours a night greeting our patrons and fans,” said Steve Deges, a longtime member of the Roundup board. “I’ve been working on getting this done for a few years. Things fell into place, and we realized it was time for an upgrade. It will be great for everybody involved.”
Pegelow credited Deges for much of the forward-thinking that has helped with the upgrades. Last year, Roundup upgraded its electrical section for the contract personnel and contestant parking.
“We improved our 30-amp and 50-amp plugs to the second row now,” he said. “We realize we also need the contestants to come to Dodge to make it one hell of a show, so we wanted to provide this for them to help them get their trailers cooled off; it can get pretty hot here in August.”
It wasn’t just the committee that sought to make improvements. Crews from Victory Electric had taken notice of some issues that could be modernized, and they have taken care of that.
“It’s all about spectator safety and improving the grid,” Pegelow said. “Victory actually came to us and wanted to help us. There will be no overhead lines, no utility poles. It’s all gone.”
There’s more to it than offering better sightlines for spectators. The upgrade also eliminates the need for transformers around the complex.
“Victory Electric came up big,” Deges said. “They realized there were live power lines over the north and south grandstands. They found ways that we could offer more safety and better comfort for our fans, and they stepped up to the plate to make it happen.
“The chance of having an outage during events will be much less, and there should be less maintenance overall. Over the long run, it will be a large financial savings in maintaining our facility.”
As was done two years ago to the north grandstands, the committee is also remodeling the south grandstands, removing outdated wooden planks and upgrading to aluminum. With the help of a couple of grants, Roundup was able to obtain enough financial assistance to purchase the aluminum to replace the decking.
“That’s another part that reflects on spectator safety,” Pegelow said.
It’s also a reflection of local organizers looking out for personnel, fans and the contestants who come to town to compete at one of the biggest rodeos in the country.
“We’re always looking to do things to make things better,” Deges said. “There are some things we’ve done that people will notice, but there are other things that may not be noticed at all. The bottom line is we have safer and more efficient facilities.”