Last updated: August 28. 2013 12:50PM - 139 Views

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The Missouri State Fair Foundation kicked off its capital campaign Thursday in effort to raise funding for a new Coliseum Annex Arena.

The new arena will comprise a 70-foot by 220-foot structure to cover the existing warm-up ring on the north side of the Coliseum, which would provide shelter from rain or excessive heat for exhibitors and competitors preparing their animals for events.

“It’s basically putting a roof over it, leveling it up and it is connected to the Coliseum by a covered breezeway,” said Jeremy Parsons, executive secretary of the foundation.

In December, the Missouri Development Finance Board approved the use of up to $343,000 in tax credits to help finance a portion of the construction cost of the new arena, which has an estimated price tag of $726,000.

Any donation of $1,000 or more will be eligible for tax credits equal to 50 percent of the contribution to the project, which Parsons hopes will provide an incentive for individuals, businesses and agriculture industry groups to get involved.

“We just really want to encourage all Missourians to be a part of this project,” he said.

The annex arena would not only be put to use during the fair, Parsons said, but it also could help draw in more livestock shows and competitions in the off-season.

“The greatest use of this is not just during the fair, but in the off-season. I think it will be pretty attractive for horse and livestock shows,” Parsons said.

State Fair Director Mark Wolfe in December told the Associated Press the fairgrounds had lost some equine events it used to host when the fair was not in session because it lacked a covered practice arena.

“The state has not funded much in the way of capital improvements in the past few years because of the budget situation, which is understandable,” Wolfe told the AP.

Parsons said 2011 would be the third consecutive year the state has not provided funding for general upkeep and maintenance of facilities on the fairgrounds. Rather than let them decline, he said the foundation wanted to step up its efforts to help fill the gap for maintaining and expanding the fair’s facilities.

“This has been on the drawing board for several years, and we thought this would be a good project to kick things off,” Parsons said.

Parsons said the construction timeline for the new arena will depend on when fundraising targets are reached.

For more information or to make a contribution for the Coliseum Annex Arena, contact the Missouri State Fair Foundation by calling 827-8120 or e-mail msffoundation@sbcglobal.net.

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