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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Transfer of Civic Center made final

  • The deed to Dodge City Civic Center and a ceremonial key were handed from city officials to USD 443 officials at a ceremony Friday.
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  • The deed to Dodge City Civic Center and a ceremonial key were handed from city officials to USD 443 officials at a ceremony Friday.
    Mayor Rick Sowers said he felt that something more than just a vote by the city commission was needed to commemorate "this big event."
    Discussing the history of the building, Sowers noted that the city began thinking about building an auditorium in the mid-1930s but didn't get it actually built until the mid-1950s.
    "I feel some kinship with those folks," he said, referring to the struggles Dodge City went through to get the special events center build.
    "There were people who were on those committees to build the Civic Center that came up to me during the special event center process and advised me to just keep going — that the same objections we were dealing with had also been raised about the Civic Center," Sowers said.
    The Civic Center was built in what was a largely undeveloped part of town at the time.
    "People were saying it would just sit out here and nothing would ever be built around it. Does that sound familiar?"
    Sowers called the agreement between the city and the school district "a good re-purposing of the facility that will keep the building in use."
    He also called the transfer "good for the growth of Dodge City — the best value to the community is this transfer to USD 443."
    City Manager Ken Strobel quoted a passage from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here."
    "But," he said, "the significance of this event is extremely important — it demonstrates what can be done when local government organizations get together and work for the common good."
    The Civic Center has been under the management of VenuWorks, the firm hired to operate the United Wireless Arena and the Magouirk Conference Center.
    Ralph Nall, general manager for VenuWorks in Dodge City, said there won't be any jobs lost due to the transfer of the Civic Center.
    "We had one employee who was stationed at the Civic Center. He will help the city and school district with the transfer for the next 30 days then we'll move him up to the arena," Nall told the Globe Friday.
    VenuWorks will assign all current contracts for upcoming use of the building to the school district, which intends to honor all such contracts.
    The city did not have any employees based at the Civic Center, so no city employees will be affected by the transfer.
    The school district plans to staff the Civic Center part time until they can determine what the needs of the facility are. In the case of events being held at the Civic Center, the district expects to hire part-time help as needed.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Civic Center has been a key facility in Dodge City since it was opened in 1955.
    The first plans proposed for such a facility in Dodge City called for an auditorium to seat 2,700, a museum, a basketball court and a dining room to seat 800. The cost of the facility, in 1930, was estimated to be $160,000, of which $72,000 would be secured from the Public Works Administration. The PWA was part of The New Deal and was created by the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 to help the country recover from the Great Depression.
    The proposed facility was defeated in several public votes over the years and it was not until September of 1952 that the public approved the plan.
    Cost estimates in 1952 were $385,000.
    The formal opening of the completed Civic Center took place on Oct. 8 and 9 in 1955.
    The program included performances by several community groups. the Dodge City College chorus led by Vernon Zollars, the Dodge City High School band led by Howard Harms, performances by musicians from St. Marys of the Plains and a guest performance by the Kansas University Modern Chorale led by Clayton Krehbiel.
    The finished Civic Center was equipped to accommodate 3,272 for stage events and 2,764 for games. The parking lot had space for 1,000 cars.
    And the final cost was $763,630.
    Follow Don Steele on Twitter @Don_dcglobe.
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