Lubbock Mayor: It's time to vote to abandon Municipal Auditorium, Coliseum

Updated: Sep. 28, 2017 at 7:45 PM CDT
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Lubbock Municipal Coliseum (Source: KCBD)
Lubbock Municipal Coliseum (Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - In executive session Thursday the Lubbock City Council began discussing the future of the Lubbock Municipal Auditorium and Coliseum. It's a future that may also be determined by Lubbock voters.

"We haven't made any decisions," Mayor Dan Pope said. "We've been talking about this as a community for many years. I think it's time for us to put it on the ballot."

The property the facilities sit on was conveyed to the City of Lubbock from Texas Tech University in 1943 with House Bill 478. The City's charter includes a reference to the property and facilities, stating only a majority of Lubbock voters can decide if the property and facilities are abandoned.

Mayor Pope believes that's the best option, considering the price to for upkeep and operation.

"They've served us very well," Mayor Pope said. "They're 60-plus years old now. We've got quite a bit of deferred maintenance in both of those facilities. I'm of the school of thought that if we own it, we need to take care of it, but I'm not sure it's a good investment. We also have an operating loss of about $700,000 a year."

The cost to make needed repairs to such things as infrastructure, HVAC and roofs could reach up to $7 million, according to Pope.

"That doesn't get to the life safety and some of the accessibility issues we have," Mayor Pope said. "To really do it right, I think it would be more than that."

If the issue makes it to a future ballot and voters decide to abandon, Pope believes Texas Tech University will regain ownership. However, he doesn't believe the City would be able to afford demolition of any facilities before the change would take place.

"It's my understanding it reverts back to them," Mayor Pope said. "It's a typical kind of reversionary clause that would apply to one public entity giving it to another public entity. When we gave it back, they would have to take it at that point."

On Thursday, Scott Lacefield, TTU System Senior Director for Communications and Marketing, told KCBD, "it would be inappropriate to comment until the city makes a decision on the matter."

One of the biggest challenges, according to Pope, is figuring out the future of one of the Coliseum's longest tenants, the ABC Rodeo.

"We need a solution as a community for dirt events, dirt floor events," Mayor Pope said. "That I think is the thing we have to work on. I don't know the City has to lead on that. In many parts of Texas, the county owns the exposition center. Maybe Texas Tech could be a partner in it. Maybe we can have a piece of that. We've not had those discussions."

Mayor Pope sees the future Buddy Holly Hall housing many events held in the auditorium and the United Supermarkets Arena hosting Coliseum events that haven't already moved to that facility.

Any remaining agreements between the City and other entities will be considered once a decision is made.

"There would be a number of related topics we would certainly have to look at," Mayor Pope said. "I think the most important is as a council, we have to decide do we start to work on this and put dollars there or do we go to the voters and make the case of giving it back to Tech."

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