City officials celebrated the start of construction on a revamped National Western Center with a chorus of sledgehammer slams against the old International Paper building in Elyria Swansea.
“Let’s tear some stuff up,” Mayor Michael Hancock shouted before hopping in a backhoe Friday to start the demolition at the groundbreaking event.
“Two years ago, Denver residents overwhelmingly said ‘yes’ to the vision of the National Western Center, and today, we begin to realize that vision and deliver on that promise,” Hancock said. “That vote of confidence, and the phenomenal work of all the campus partners, has led us to this ceremony and the bright future for this campus and this community.”
Ana Campos, a freshman at Bruce Randolph, asked the crowd to not forget the social issues and community fear in neighborhoods surrounding the area.
Businesses near the center were forced to relocate ahead of the groundbreaking to make way for redevelopment. Residents in the area fear similar displacement especially since changes coming to the stock show are paired with plans to renovate and widen Interstate 70.
The city’s goal is to transform the National Western Complex and Denver Coliseum from the home of a roughly two-week agriculture event complete with professional rodeos, a horse show and a Western trade show to a year-round destination and global hub for agriculture and innovation.