National Western Stock Show heading to Aurora? Hold your horses!
Back in the wild, wild West, rustlers were shot for stealing your property. Here in the mild, mild West, they hire lawyers and lobbyists and ask you to help build their new corral. Because now it looks like Denver will not only lose the National Western Stock Show to Aurora, but may pay for the privilege.
It was just last week that Gaylord Entertainment announced plans for the new, $800 million hotel/resort project it wants to build at the edge of Aurora, conveniently close to a patch of Denver land that the National Western Stock Show has been eying for a new home -- not that Gaylord said its deal was contingent on the Stock Show moving east. But yesterday, a Denver City Council committee learned that the Federal Aviation Authority had put that parcel at DIA out of the running, which meant the Stock Show was focusing on Aurora instead. Denver officials are currently working with Aurora and Gaylord on a joint application for Colorado Regional Tourism Act funds, since the deadline is tomorrow.
There's no guarantee those funds with come through, of course, just as there's no guarantee that Gaylord Entertainment will go ahead with its project if it doesn't get the subsidies it wants.
But the Stock Show's desire to leave its current home is undeniable. The day that Gaylord revealed its plans -- at a meeting that looked like full employment for this town's suits -- National Western CEO Paul Andrews sent this note to employees and volunteers;
Later this morning, an announcement will be made by Gaylord Entertainment that they have finalized their deal to build a new Gaylord Western Hotel on the High Point site near Peña Blvd and Tower Road.
As you may be aware, we have been researching possible sites as an option for the National Western relocation and expansion and the High Point site continues to be the leading site of interest. In addition, Gaylord and the National Western continue to discuss possible business efficiencies that would be created between our two companies if we finalize a deal to be located adjacent to their property. We continue to be encouraged by the strong relationship we have with Gaylord Entertainment and are excited to see they have finalized their deal to be at the High Point site.
With Gaylord's announcement, it will surely mean the media will be expecting a comment from the National Western on why we were not part of this public announcement, since many stories have surfaced in regard to our relationship with Gaylord and the High Point site. I will be commenting that the High Point site continues to be a site of interest and that we are excited to see that Gaylord Entertainment has completed their deal to come to Colorado. It is a big economic driver for the entire State and good for job creation. The National Western continues to work with the City of Denver as we explore the High Point area as a possible option for the National Western Complex in the future.
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The Stock Show still has 29 years remaining on its lease for the National Western Complex in north Denver, where the show has been located for 105 years. Voters have already authorized $150 million in improvements there; now they may be asked to let that money be used on a new facility in Aurora.
Last weekend, I drove around the current National Western complex during a break in the action at the Old West auction, crossing the train tracks that used to take cattle to the stockyards, looking at the little houses that have co-existed with the show for a century. And then I went back to the auction, and watched a tintype of Billy the Kid sell for $2 million.
The Kid would have recognized a stick-up when it's happening.
More from the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Top 6 names for Gaylord hotel (and National Western Stock Show neighbor?) in Aurora."