The Ranch's Master Plan — Looking Towards the Future
Since opening in 2003, The Ranch Events Complex has served as a monumental landmark for Larimer County residents and citizens. It has developed a reputation as one of the premier event facilities in the region and serves as a major economic driver for the County by hosting regional and national events that attract out of town visitors.
The Ranch operates in a highly competitive environment that is continuously changing on all fronts. As such the County took a very proactive approach to keep the facility competitive and prepare for the future by creating a community-driven master plan in 2017. Larimer County citizens approved an extension of the 0.15% dedicated sales and use tax to expand and enhance The Ranch facilities based on the master plan. This plan was heavily influenced by The Ranch’s vision statement.
The Ranch is Larimer County’s premier event and entertainment complex that hosts a wide variety of events such as indoor arena events, sporting events, the Larimer County Fair and PRCA Rodeo, 4-H and C.S.U. Extension programs, outdoor concerts and events, trade shows and commercial events, as well as many business and community meetings. It is a community gathering place, with long-standing agricultural roots and pride of ownership expressed in the high quality of the facilities, programs, and services. These experiences improve the lives of Larimer County citizens.
The Ranch staff, with help from a consulting team, explored the approved 2017 master plan and recommended the best path to move forward with an implementation plan. The analysis included an extensive market study, multiple stakeholder meetings, recommendations for any overlooked programming opportunities, concept designs for the recommended projects, an in-depth analysis of the recommended programs and an extensive economic model.
The culmination of that research identified multiple projects to move forward with as an implementation plan. The projects identified were based on the greatest cost-benefit for the County and the most community support from the stakeholders and the community. These projects include:
1. Relocation of Arena Circle to the outer edge of current parking, and to create new entrance and exit points on the southeast and northern edge of the property.
- Status as of September 2022: This project is currently underway and is expected to be completed in summer 2023. These infrastructure updates will improve traffic flow throughout the complex and enhance the safety of visitors moving between facilities at The Ranch.
2. Construction of a new 60,000-square-foot flat floor trade show facility to be attached to a privately funded full-service hotel.
- Status as of September 2022: In lieu of a new 60,000-square-foot trade show facility, we are currently researching opportunities to expand the current FNBO building to include a 70,000-square-foot flat floor facility with contiguous space. This change reflects recently updated market studies and the shift away from using this space for 4-H or community events due to the continued use of the McKee building and the future 4-H, Youth and Community Livestock Arena. The Ranch released a request for proposals for the hotel project in early 2022 and received no interest from the private sector. We are currently investigating why potential developers did not show interest and are developing next steps for the future of this project.
3. Construction of a recreational sports complex to house three ice sheets and a natatorium (indoor swimming pool).
- Status as of September 2022: We are currently exploring opportunities that could allow us to build the three ice sheets sooner and attached to a new events center. For the natatorium, we are working closely with our neighbors in Fort Collins and Loveland to ensure we are not duplicating efforts for public facilities. We will continue to support the development of a recreational natatorium in Larimer County either at The Ranch or at a partner facility.
4. Expansion of the equine and livestock facilities to include a new barn and covered show arena.
- Status as of September 2022: The beginnings of this project are currently underway in the expansion of the MAC warm-up arena, newly constructed outdoor arena, new RV camping and trailer parking. The new barn and covered show arena have not been eliminated but rather pushed out further into the project phasing.
5. Conversion of the existing First National Bank of Omaha show halls into an expanded 4-H, Youth and Community Building.
- Status as of September 2022: Based on the needs of the community, this project has evolved to become the new 4-H, Youth and Community Livestock Arena, which broke ground during the 2022 Larimer County Fair. This arena was identified as a potential alternative project should financing be secured and will include classrooms and community offices to meet the need for current programs to expand and allow for new community programming.
6. Conversion of the current McKee 4-H Building into administrative offices for the Ranch.
- Status as of September 2022: The McKee Building will remain in its current use as a 4-H, youth and community building for Larimer County residents to enjoy and administrative offices will remain in the First National Bank building. This change occurred due to the reduced need for office space and the construction of the 4-H, Youth and Community Livestock Arena to supplement the activities at McKee Building. Future phases of this project may consider expanding this facility to create one contiguous space for expo needs.
7. Construction of a new event center arena with a capacity of approximately 10,000 seats to replace the existing Budweiser Event Center. Alternately, should financing not be secured from the private sector for a new arena, we would move forward with renovations to the existing Budweiser Event Center.
- Status as of September 2022: We are currently evaluating opportunities for our event center and considering options that will allow us to add three new sheets of ice for recreational sports sooner and attached to a potential new event center.
In addition, two alternative projects were identified should financing be secured to support them:
1. A dedicated 4-H arena including classroom space and equine and livestock facilities.
- Status as of September 2022: This project was selected to move forward based on community needs and broke ground during the 2022 Larimer County Fair.
2. A dive well with platform diving as part of the warm-up pool.
- Status as of September 2022: We are working closely with our neighbors in Fort Collins and Loveland to ensure we are not duplicating efforts for public facilities. We will continue to support the development of a recreational natatorium in Larimer County either at The Ranch or at a partner facility.
The master plan is continuously evolving and is intended to adjust to the current and projected market to create a place for all Larimer County residents to enjoy.
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