Broker contract to sell coliseum set to expire

Six months ago the hottest ticket in town was a standing room only spot at the Ector County Commissioners Courtroom.

Residents flooded the July 26 meeting as they watched the Ector County Commissioners’ Court decide 3-2 to enter into a proposed real estate broker contract between Ector County and J.L. Herriage/Copper Key Realty for the potential sale of the Ector County Coliseum.

Since that decision took place, the Court hasn’t openly discussed the potential sale of the Ector County Coliseum during any of its regularly scheduled or special meetings and two of the three votes in favor of the decision are no longer on the Court.

Copper Key Realty confirmed with the Odessa American over the phone on Wednesday afternoon the six-month contract is set to expire Thursday.

Ector County Judge Dustin Fawcett, who was sworn in on Jan. 2, called the decision to enter into a proposed real estate broker contract for the potential sale of the Ector County Coliseum a “side show” and “circus.”

“I think that shows that this was never a serious proposal,” Fawcett said about the broker contract expiring. “… I never thought there were any firm figures or firm numbers. We never knew who this company was and there were a lot of questions around it.”

Previous Odessa American stories have reported the offer for the coliseum is between $20 to $25 million. Ector County Commissioner for Precinct 2 Greg Simmons agreed after the July 26 meeting with the number that has been reported.

The Ector County Appraisal District lists the total market value for the coliseum at a little over $28 million as of Wednesday morning. Fawcett said the county would have been “silly” to sell around market value.

“From the early numbers that I was hearing, the only numbers I was hearing was a little over $30 million dollars as I said before that’s a silly proposition,” Fawcett said. “We can’t build a juvenile facility for $24 million right now, but we are going to sell the coliseum along with 34 acres and barns A through G as well as a brand new rodeo arena. It’s a silly proposition and I don’t think it was ever a serious conversation.”

Despite what he believed to be a “side show” and a “circus,” Fawcett believes the positive byproduct from that broker contract helped ignite interest to decide what direction to take the coliseum.

Fawcett said “we haven’t had an in-depth conversation about the future of the coliseum in a very very long time and I think it’s time to have that.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Fawcett floated the idea of putting together a committee, much like the library committee, that would include coliseum stakeholders and members from the public that would be chosen by each of the five seats on the Court.

The stakeholders could include Odessa Jackalopes, Chuck Wagon Gang, Merry Marketplace, Permian Basin International Oil Show, SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo and other users of the coliseum.

“From my conversations with constituents, from my conversations with commissioners and some other folks, the conversation needs to be — if we aren’t going to sell it, which I believe the public was overwhelming behind — is what would be like it to look like,” Fawcett said. “It’s clear to me. The public wants some more investment in that facility.”

Fawcett said the discussions have already begun on ways to improve the coliseum.

The Ector County Judge believes one of the first improvements would be to have multiple cooking stations through the venue. There’s currently one and he would like to expand that to three more.

Fawcett said the additional cooking stations would lead to local restaurants staking a concession spot in the coliseum.

“It would be ideal if we had local restaurants, whether they are food trucks or brick and mortars, to come in and have one of those points of sale to where they could sell their product there,” Fawcett said. “That’s a win-win for everybody in the community to diversify the type of food that we offer and it enhances the overall experience.”

Though the coliseum is one of many buildings owned by Ector County, Fawcett said he believes the current members of the Court are concerned about all county-owned assets.

“We firmly believe the commissioners and myself are very concerned about the assets that we do have in the county and figuring out what is the future of these facilities whether it’s our buildings or Courthouse or Annex or new jail expansion or new juvenile detention facility or library,” he said. “All these buildings were built about the same time, so they are all coming up for either new rebuilds or remodels. We need to have serious discussions about them.

“We have a good Court who is going to focus on these issues and I hope to lead those discussions because I’m passionate about these issues as well.”

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