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Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Horseshoe Pavilion Adds to Mix of Midland Venues

New Horseshoe Pavilion Adds to Mix of Midland Venues
Midland Reporter Telegram

by Rich Lopez

Midland now boasts a new venue that will add to the versatility the city is proving capable of. The Horseshoe opened the entertainment and meeting venue Horseshoe Pavilion this weekend with the Silver Spur Gun and Blade Show but celebrates the grand opening Saturday with comedian Jeff Foxworthy headlining.

The Pavilion is part of the vision of a growing Midland — but it’s also a response.

“There was so much demand for non-horse and cattle shows,” property manager Mike Dooley of Dooley Management Company said. “In the last two years, we had to turn away more than 300 event requests for conventions, trade shows and large parties. We either didn’t have the dates or the schedule to move the dirt.”

Dirt was also an issue.

For animal or rodeo type shows, the arena could simply keep its dirt floor. Dooley described the horse and cattle shows as an economic stimulus for the county. However, when that switched over to a flat show that needed an actual floor, hauling out the dirt was both a logistical and financial concern.

Then events started to outgrow the 34,628-square-foot facility.

The Pavilion broke ground 16 months ago thanks to Midland County, which owns the Horseshoe complex.

“The commissioners’ court looked at this and responded with the Pavilion. The reserves were there so this could be done without borrowing,” Dooley said. “The good thing was there was the foresight to give us a better place for non-dirt shows while still filling up the arena with events appropriate for that.”

The Pavilion comes in at 52,000 square feet that can easily house trade shows and major regional conventions. Its versatility is also noted by movable walls which can host concerts with up to 5,619 patrons or be broken down into smaller venues. The Pavilion also includes an outdoor amphitheater with seating up to 4,500.

The venue will feature high-tech audio visual equipment that can enhance both convention and concert events. Wifi capacity is expected to handle up to 2,000 devices. An onsite full kitchen will increase catering capabilities as well. Arena seating also will be available.

Both the indoor and outdoor spaces share amenities such as parking and restrooms.

“I’m pleased and proud of it,” Dooley said.

Dooley credits the commissioners and Judge Mike Bradford with the building’s progress and completion, especially with a financial ease.

Bradford said the Pavilion had advantage on its side even before the weekend’s gun show.

“This was good business planning by the court. The pavilion is being done with no debt or property tax,” Bradford said. “And it was something the community asked for. The first building has shown to be greater than our expectations. This is a response to that.”

Ironically, with looming worries of potential economic downturn, both Dooley and Bradford have confidence the Pavilion can sidestep any concerns.

With enough reserves and no property tax or debt, the building is probably one of the few exceptions to the rule. Added ease was found in an already-filled schedule. Many trade shows and non-animal exhibitions will be moving from the arena to the Pavilion.

But where does the Pavilion fit in with other large capacity venues?

The last thing Dooley or Bradford want anyone to see the Pavilion as is competition. Instead, they see it as a complement.

“The plan is to have concerts there but we’re never going to take the place of the Wagner Noel. We already have a base for events, but we’re also fairly versatile. We expect to have all kinds of entertainment to reflect the community but we’re not here to duplicate anything,” Dooley said.

Bradford sees the Pavilion as another option for Midland’s growing population as well as expanding the city’s attractions to include outside events.

“We never want people to forget the Pavilion is not an ‘instead of’ but a complement to other venues,” Bradford assured. “The Pavilion doesn’t do what the Wagner Noel, the Midland Center or the Chap Center does, but we’re all gears on a wheel. We’re proving that if people want to bring their events to Midland, to come on, because we have a place for it.”