Coordinator Says Rodeo Arena Will Be Finished By May


With the help of 200 volunteers and 50 area businesses, the long-awaited move of Payson's rodeo arena from Rumsey Park to the south edge of town will be complete for the spring rodeo in May, Arena Relocation Coordinator Barry Cardinael said.

In a word, things are going wonderfully, he said.

Cardinael's extended contract with the Town of Payson to coordinate volunteers and raise money for the relocation effort will end March 1.

"But I will definitely be working as a volunteer after March 1, finishing up odds and ends," he said Monday. Town officials say the project will be ready in time for the Gary Hardt.

He said a recent agreement between the Gila County Board of Supervisors and the Town of Payson has established a firm foundation for the new arena.

The county will establish a trailhead at the arena site, and in exchange, it will cover the arena in granite and soil stabilizer.

"Now people will be able to access the Mazatzal area wilderness from the event center," Cardinael said.

Cardinael said a trail already exists through the area that connects with Forest Service Road 688.

The trailhead will have a kiosk-style information board and will give people on foot, horseback and bicycles easy access to the forest.

"You could technically park your horse trailer at the new multievent center and ride your horse to the Mazatzal Mountains or all the way to Camp Verde on wilderness trails," he said.

The county is now moving and distributing 8,000 yards of granite and 3,000 yards of buckhead, Cardinael said.

"It will make the entire area usable -- even in big rainstorms," he said. "The ground out there is all clay. They're covering up to 15 acres. It's a tremendous undertaking.

"Instead of throwing money at a problem, they're throwing in natural resources, labor, equipment, material. The value of the project is well over $100,000."

Cardinael credits District One Supervisor Ron Christensen and the Gila County Board of Supervisors, Town Manager Rich Underkofler and Town Engineer LaRon Garrett for making the proposal a reality.

"It was a simple, positive, and friendly agreement that was established in a basic letter of understanding," he said. Work on the soil stabilization project began the second week in January.

The ticket booth for the arena is more than halfway finished, he said, and the actual relocation of the rodeo arena should be under way in a couple of weeks.

"The parks and recreation staff also is working very hard on making sure electrical and water systems are operational in time for the spring rodeo," he said.

And to make sure that all those who worked on the project are properly thanked, Cardinael said he is working on plans to formalize an on-site memorial to all the volunteers and supporters who helped build the facility.

"For sure, it must be ready for the May 20-21 spring rodeo."

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