Former EHS student Cole Snyder rode in last August’s rodeo during the bareback event. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Former EHS student Cole Snyder rode in last August’s rodeo during the bareback event. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Expo Center in line for added seating, new roofing

500 more seats could be added to the Expo Center’s arena in the near future.

Outside money will bring improvements to the Enumclaw Expo Center, though not until spring.

A grant from Seattle-based 4Culture will pay for additional seating at Expo’s rodeo arena. A much larger sum from the state of Washington, when combined with a city contribution, will fund roofing projects to a pair of buildings on the center grounds.

Rene Popke, executive director at the Expo Center, was successful in landing a $126,000 grant from 4Culture. The money will pay for another 500 seats at the arena, bringing to total seating capacity to nearly 2,500.

Popke said the expanded seating has been needed. The annual Enumclaw Pro Rodeo typically sells out for Friday and Saturday performances.

4Culture might seem an odd match with a rodeo arena, but Popke explains that the Expo Center project aligns with the “cultural piece” of 4Culture’s mission. The arena, she said, is also used for the Scottish Highland Games and the annual Hispanic-themed rodeo.

The roofing project is a bit more complex, with more moving parts and an increased cast of characters.

Popke said the work will be somewhat proactive, as “there have been no major leaks at this point” at either the Les Schwab Hall or the center’s administration building. However, rot has set in, she said, meaning trouble is inevitable.

It is estimated roof work on the two buildings will total $500,000.

The city received nearly half that sum through a grant offered by the state’s Department of Commerce. Involved in the process were Anthony Wright, a member of the City Council who serves as the council’s Expo Center liaison, and Morgan Irwin, who represents the Plateau region in the state House of Representatives.

The Legislature ultimately appropriated $250,000 for the roof work; that means $245,000 coming the city’s way after the state withholds its administrative fee. To make up the difference the city has allocated $255,000, using its Real Estate Excise Tax fund as a source.

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