WACO, TX — Extraco Events Center's $34 million expansion project is almost complete. The final touches are being done in the new 80,000 square-foot "The Base" building.
“We started to look at what does Waco need from the standpoint of complimenting the facilities we already have, such as the convention center and the WISD Stadium and different things like that, and what we really needed was a large indoor space that could be used for sports as well as large trade shows,” said Wes Allison, President and CEO of the Extraco Events Center.
“People love Waco, and they are looking for ways and opportunities to be here. The fact that the facility is nearing completion, and it is also large enough that now given the world in which we live in, it allows people to spread out,” said Kristina Collins, Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Waco Chamber of Commerce.
In 2017, McLennan County voters approved a venue tax, which included a two percent increase in hotel tax and a five percent increase in rental car tax to fund the project, in hopes of attracting large groups of tourists.
“We talk about not being a four year decision, but being a 40 year decision. This facility, as well as the second and third phases of this venue project, is funded by folks who are coming into our community and staying in hotel rooms. So it’s not a tax burden to those that live here locally,” said Allison.
“When we look at the multiplier effect of tourism, it's about 90 cents. So for every dollar that a tourist spends directly into the community, it generates another 90 cents of economic activity. So it's almost two dollars the impact of one,” said Collins.
Even before completion, the building already has booked 10% to 15% of its available dates for events this year, including Fuzzy Friend’s Barkin’ Ball and a TAPPS athletic tournament.
“All of those people are heads in beds. They are people sitting in restaurants and spending dollars,” said Collins.
“We can do six high school basketball courts in this facility. We can do 12 volleyball courts in this facility. The building is sub-dividable into many small spaces, and so we have a really great functional space,” said Allison.
The official opening date will be set closer to completion, since construction can be impacted by weather, but Allison did say that The Base is still right on track to open in March.