Last Modified: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:29 PM
One of the area’s biggest assets, Burton Coliseum, will undergo a much-needed facelift in the coming months.
The 8,000-seat multipurpose arena and adjacent livestock and exhibit building has been serving Southwest Louisiana residents and visitors for more than 35 years.
It’s strength is its versatility. The coliseum not only hosts McNeese graduations and serves as the home court for McNeese’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, but also has welcomed rodeos, festivals, livestock shows, banquets, crawfish boils, social studies and science fairs and parties of all manner.
Last Saturday, it was filled to the roof-top as adoring fans welcomed home “American Idol” star Josh Ledet.
And Burton’s facilities will host the Louisiana High School and Junior High School Rodeo Finals June 1-9, marking the return of the rodeo finals for the first time in 12 years. Previously, Southwest Louisiana had hosted the rodeo finals for 53 years.
The rodeo is expected to draw 300 contestants from around the state.
Like any residential housing, commercial building or property, the passage of time requires maintenance, refurbishing and updating.
And that’s what is planned for the Burton facilities.
The $5.1 million improvements for the coming year include renovations of restrooms, concession areas and the Chalkley (meeting) Room, upgrades to improve access for the disabled, improvements to the lighting and fire protection systems and for power distribution and a new roof.
The improvements will be paid for with state capital outlay money and Federal Community Building Grant funding, according to Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam.
During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, 220 new horse stalls were installed, 5,000 feet of cattle ties were renovated, new weather barrer fencing was installed along with two new covered walkways and an aggregate surface for RV parking was built.
Previous improvements included an $1.2 million upgrade to the Ag Barn in 2006 and $4.8 million in improvements to the Open Air Arena.
All of this has led to a name change. The facilities on the Gulf Highway will now be known as the Burton Coliseum Complex.
And with the new name comes renewed vigor.
Beam said that the renovations will give the facilities more versatility and ability to attract “new events.”
And, they should add to its utility and longevity.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.