I forgot one of the apparently most sacred of cows in Cochrane these days, and that is the Lion’s Rodeo Grounds in Glenbow (just below the current pool/Boys & Girls Club/curling rink). There’s been a lot of interesting discussion about what should happen with that piece of property when the lease is up in 2019.
So here’s my thoughts.
First, we have a purpose built agricultural complex on the NW corner of town, with tons of parking, an indoor arena, a few different outdoor arenas/tracks and numerous other amenities. Does a town of 18,000 need two rodeo grounds?
Second, what’s the usage and economic impact of the rodeo grounds for Cochrane? I live in Glenbow so have a fairly good handle on how much it’s being used. Between Summer and Winterfest, the labor day rodeo and a few other events, it’d be generous to say that it’s utilized 6 weekends out of the year (aside from slow-pitch tournaments on the 2 fields). And I do understand that the Lions contribute greatly to this community (~4 million in the last 11 years), but my sense is that a good portion of that is raised at things other than the rodeo.
Third, given that the pool and curling rink are being relocated to Spray Lakes Leisure Center in the next couple of years, it’s safe to say the upper tier is going to need redevelopment. Is a rodeo ground that gets used sparingly the best use of that prime real estate? It’s tough to say.
Proponents say that it’s a very unique feature of a small town to have the rodeo right in the heart of the community. And I’m certainly not one to disagree on the cultural aspect of that argument.
Of course, as a taxpayer and someone generally interested in the fiscal sustainability of this community, it’s a hard stretch for me to see us not getting the maximum amount we can for that property, and allocating that money to some of the other big-ticket items that this rapidly growing community needs.
All nostalgia aside, it might be time to take a step back and look at the big picture on this one.