The Pendleton Round-Up will expand southward by tearing down the former Albertsons grocery store and building a new retail and ticketing facility in its former parking lot.
Months of speculation gave way to reality Tuesday as the Round-Up announced the project, which it is deeming the “south campus expansion.”
Round-Up President Dave O’Neill said the new 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot building will centralize many of the rodeo’s operations and give them more space.
The Round-Up’s key needs are for increased retail space with room to store and fill online sales, an independent ticketing area with adequate office space, cohesive administrative offices and convenient space to meet service providers. Revenue from retail and ticketing have risen in recent years, and housing them under one roof is intended to make those processes more efficient.
Randy Thomas, the Round-Up’s director of publicity, acknowledged that the way customers purchase tickets has changed, and their ticketing infrastructure needs to as well.
“People used to buy a ticket, buy a hat, and then write a check,” he said.
With more and more patrons printing out their tickets at home or even using images on their smart phones as tickets, consolidating administrative offices and ticketing under one roof is meant to streamline the operation.
Thomas said the Round-Up is one of the few rodeos with a year-round retail operation that exceeds larger rodeos in Denver and San Antonio.
With sales up 5 percent from last year, the new building’s storage space is meant to accommodate the Round-Up’s growing online retail sector.
The planned location of the building is in the northeast corner of the parking lot, directly across from the Hall of Fame to the east and the bucking horse statue to the north.
The new building’s location means the vacant Albertsons will be demolished over the summer.
O’Neill anticipates the Round-Up will field complaints that it didn’t repurpose the building instead of demolishing it. While the Round-Up explored using Albertsons for its own ends, O’Neill said the size of the building meant the Round-Up would have to lease part of it to another entity to make that feasible, a move that wouldn’t play to the Round-Up’s strengths.
Thomas added that renovating the building would have been a long-term, multiphase project while a new building accomplished the Round-Up’s goals more quickly and efficiently.
The demolition is also expected to create addition by subtraction — more parking spots.
“In our reality, (parking) is our biggest nemesis,” O’Neill said.
Round-Up officials expect to have the Albertsons building cleared away by Round-Up week so they can open up the parking lot to rodeo fans.
Construction on the project will cease for the rodeo and resume afterwards, although the Round-Up didn’t provide an exact timeline for the new facility.
As for its other expansion projects — an indoor arena and classroom space for Blue Mountain Community College and several properties bought west of Southwest 18th Street — O’Neill said there weren’t many updates to provide.
A long-range facility planning committee continues to look at what to do with the western properties and the Round-Up remains supportive of BMCC’s efforts.
The Round-Up is also making its own efforts to keep stockholders abreast of their plans, after receiving previous complaints that the Round-Up Board of Directors wasn’t being transparent with them. O’Neill said all stockholders were sent letters Monday and Tuesday informing them of the project.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.