The new National Western Center will house more cattle and llamas, but what will it do the rest of the time?
It’s not exactly clear. The campus wants your ideas, though.
The vast National Western Center campus slowly changing the face of Elyria-Swansea will host rodeos, mutton bustin’ and pretty much everything else Western enough to grace the annual stock show — but that’s just two weeks out of the year.
For the rest of the year, the nonprofit corporation in charge of the project wants the public’s help bringing to life a space that will eventually span 2.2 million square feet.
The center’s mission is about “Western heritage, connecting urban and rural communities, and the global food production,” according to Brad Buchanan, CEO of the National Western Center Authority. He wants people, nonprofits and companies to submit their ideas for activating the space along those lines.
That could mean activities, online experiences, office tenants, retail shops, art, or pretty much anything else. It’s wide open, in part because the campus won’t be finished until 2024.
“We want to go through a process of cultivating partners, events and ideas around the guiding principles that the campus is created around,” Buchanan said. “This initial call for ideas is just that.”
Everyone has a month to submit their ideas to the authority — the deadline is April 20. They can expect to hear back in the spring or summer.
That’s just the first round. National Western Center will make plenty more calls for ideas, which Buchanan says can go live well before the campus actually opens. Online experiences, for example, don’t need a glistening new building to exist.
“The team will contact some participants directly to discuss how they can be involved in creating the campus experience,” a press release states. “Others will be kept in mind as the team builds longer-term plans.”