The Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo

A cowboy competes in the Bull Riding competition during the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo on July 24, 2019, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium.

OGDEN — Ogden's Pioneer Stadium already has new seating on its north side, donated by the Utah Jazz and installed in 2018.

Next, per Alan Hall's vision, comes new seating in the south grandstands, a grand new entry to the west, and more flourishes to the city-owned structure, home to the annual Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo.

"It will make it one of the finest stadiums in the country," Hall said. "It's pretty major when you think about it."

Weber County commissioners earlier this month approved allocation of $324,241 in funds generated by a special county sales tax for the improvements, which have a total estimated price tag of $4.13 million. Hall, chairman of the Ogden Pioneer Days Foundation, has been seeking out donors to cover the rest. He says he's getting there and hopes to complete the upgrades later this year. The Pioneer Days rodeo, associated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is a big deal each summer in Ogden. The old stadium, built in the 1930s, merits an upgrade given the stature of the event, in Hall's view.

Pioneer Stadium rendering

This rendering shows proposed changes to the western entry of Ogden's Pioneer Stadium, per planned upgrades to the facility. Weber County commissioners on March 3, 2020, approved use of $324,241 generated by a special county sales tax for the $4.13 million project.

David Owen, a volunteer on the committee that reviews requests for funding from the special 0.1% county sales tax, said the stadium's central role in the Pioneer Days rodeo figured in the group's favorable recommendation to county commissioners on use of the $324,241. The RAMP tax, as it's known, generated $4.2 million in all in 2020 for recreation, arts and other projects in Weber County, and several other initiatives are also in line to get a share of that money.

Pioneer Days is one of the largest events hosted in Ogden, with attendance of some 35,000 each year to its varied activities. Owen said it "brings essential tourism dollars into our community." What's more, nearly $250,000 in RAMP tax funds helped with the $1.3 million seating upgrade in 2018 on the north side of the stadium, he said, "which gave me confidence in a successful use of dollars towards Phase II."

Beyond that, Owen is confident RAMP funding will help leverage other donations to complete the project and, significantly, thinks the stadium and the annual rodeo embody the spirit of the city.

"In this case, I can't think of a place that better represents our residents as a whole," he said.

Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer for Ogden, has yet to see blueprints specific to the plans, which would face review by the Ogden City Council before any upgrades could move ahead. City officials, however, are "excited about the possibilities," he said. While the non-profit Ogden Pioneer Days Foundation is spearheading the initiative to upgrade Pioneer Stadium, located west of Lorin Farr Park at 668 17th St., it remains a city facility.

NEW SEATING, WELCOMING ARCH

According to the vision of foundation officials and the plans submitted as part of the request for RAMP funds, new seating — aluminum benching with backrests — would be installed on the south side of the stadium.

Moreover, several hundred seats would be added to the east side, Hall said, and a pedestrian bridge structure would connect that area with the south side. The bridge would allow spectators to avoid the open area in the southeastern corner of the stadium grounds where competitors typically congregate with their horses.

"I'm fearful someone's going to get run over," Hall said.

The plans also call for installation of a large screen in the stadium to offer spectators replays of rodeo activity, new restrooms near the western entry and, potentially, a new arch in that area to serve as a welcome for visitors.

"That whole area will change," Hall said.

Initial plans had called for completion of the project before this year's installment of the rodeo, scheduled for July 20-24. But given growing concerns about coronavirus and its ripple effects, Hall doesn't foresee the work happening until after the rodeo — although he still sees the work potentially happening this year.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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