Archived Story

County eyes Hormel Foundation funds for new grandstand

Published 10:20am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Mower County board is looking to the Hormel Foundation to partially fund the new grandstand.

“This is a huge thing for Austin and for the county if they’re willing to participate in it,” commissioner Mike Ankeny said.

The county board accepted a bid of about $600,000 — about $20,000 under budget — from Seating and Athletic Facility Enterprises LLC of Ellendale for part of the construction costs to build a 1,500-seat grandstand during its Tuesday board meeting.

But a new grandstand is far from a done deal.

The bid was accepted on the condition that the county receive grant money from the Foundation to pay part of the project.

While board Chairman Jerry Reinartz was pleased with the bid coming $20,000 under the estimate, he said, there’s still work to be done.

“It all depends now on if we can put this deal together with the help of the Foundation,” Reinartz said. “We’d be happy with anything they can do to help.”

The board allocated $500,000 as part of the county’s 2013 budget to build the grandstand. However, the county requested $275,000 from the Foundation to help build a 1,500-seat grandstand rather than a 1,000-seat grandstand in the hopes of the structure being “more than just a one day a year facility,” according Coordinator Craig Oscarson.

A 1,500-seat grandstand would cost an estimated $776,000, while a 1,000-seat grandstand would cost an about $553,500.

The $600,000 bid is only for part of the project. To make the structure more appealing to host other events, the board is looking to spend an estimated $155,000 for electrical and infrastructure, $12,500 for safety barriers and $17,500 for security fencing and other things.

The added electrical infrastructure would make the grandstand capable of hosting events like the recently announced Austin Artworks Festival concert or other similar shows.

The Foundation could make a decision as early as this month. If the Foundation doesn’t give funds to the project, board members say they’ll go back to the drawing board. But, board members said they don’t want to make the Foundation look like the bad guys should they choose not to approve the funding.

The county board voted to approve the bid before the Foundation made a decision, because the county is aiming to have a new structure completed before the 2013 fair. In order to meet that deadline, work needs to begin soon, according to commissioners.

The Austin Fire Department demolished the old grandstand in a controlled burn Feb. 2 after a structural engineer deemed it unsafe for use shortly before the 2012 fair.

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