HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Kansas State Fair General Manager Bryan Schulz is ready to talk about the project to renovate the Bison Arena, now that the governor has signed the bill for the state's half.
"With House Bill 2510 going through, that allocated about $14.6 million towards the fair," Schulz said. "$10 million of that was earmarked for the Bison Arena. The remainder, the $2.5 million was going to go towards asphalt repairs on the grounds, a million that would go towards a PA system, $500,000 towards air conditioning in the Oz Gallery and Centennial Hall and then about $460,000 to finish the upgrades down at Expocenter."
The state's money is allocated in FY 2023, which starts July 1. The total cost is estimated around $20 million.
"We're going to need to hire an architect," Schulz said. "We do have our contract with Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey. With a bid this big, I think it has to go out on state bid. We'll see what happens with that. Once we have an architect in place, then we'll probably look at structural, making sure that is what we need to do and then start moving forward to actually get a better cost of what the building is going to be."
The concern is that any estimate given even months ago is likely not accurate. The fair has seen this problem with the Capper project as its price tag went up and completion date went back due to supply chain issues, particularly with steel, so Schulz really wants to be sure fairgoers are patient with the process.
"It's going to take at least a year to get everything into place," Schulz said. "That would be a rough timeline. Starting a year, to get everything into place how we want it, getting everything going. Then, it's probably going to be another year or so after that. I'm thinking it's going to be two plus years before it would be open, for sure."
The goal is to make sure all of the timeline is firm before getting specific bids as the project progresses, so that costs can be controlled as much as possible.