San Gabriel Park Rodeo Arena FAQ
1. Why was the rodeo arena not included in the San Gabriel Park Master Plan?
In 2008, the City of Georgetown undertook a robust public process to develop and adopt a Parks, Recreation, and Trails Master Plan. One of the recommendations of the master plan was to pursue relocating rodeo facilities to a new location in Williamson County and to reincorporate the rodeo grounds into a park feature. This 2008 Parks Master Plan was the basis for the parks bond which passed in November of that year. Part of the $35.5 million parks bond is dedicated specifically to San Gabriel Park and the implementation of the master plan.
In 2013, Williamson County held a bond election that included funding for the Williamson County Expo Center, including a rodeo arena and other facilities. The 60,000-square-foot facility was constructed at a cost of $12.4 million and was designed to serve the entire County. The Posse was identified as a stakeholder by Williamson County in 2014 to help shape the conceptual plan for the Expo Center, which opened in 2016.
In 2015, the City completed a more detailed master plan for San Gabriel Park. This planning effort also included public engagement and multiple reviews by the City Council.
As part of the planning process, the City interviewed key stakeholders, including the Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse. Among other concerns, the Posse identified finding a long-term home as a key priority for their organization.
2. Why was the show barn not included in the San Gabriel Park Master Plan?
Williamson County has indicated that they plan to terminate their lease for the show barn in San Gabriel Park. In the lease agreement, the show barn improvements actually belong to the County. The City, in anticipation of these changes, developed a master plan for San Gabriel Park. Using voter-approved bonds, the City is currently constructing phase two of the plan and anticipates starting phase three next year.
Phase three includes a central green east of Chamber Way, south of the Recreation Center, and north of Morrow Street, which is where the show barn and arena current stand. Typically, the central green will be a passive space for park patrons to enjoy. However, the central green allows San Gabriel Park to host community events and festivals throughout the year.
3. Does Georgetown not care about its ranching and agricultural heritage?
The City deeply appreciates and respects the history, tradition, and culture surrounding the rodeo and Georgetown’s deep agricultural and ranching legacy. However, it is a disservice to the community if a broader perspective is not taken when considering the rodeo arena in San Gabriel Park.
Fortunately, there are more appropriate and safer rodeo and equestrian facilities available near Georgetown. In fact, the City just opened Garey Park which has a great equestrian arena and equestrian trails. Williamson County has also invested significant resources to construct an outstanding expo arena in Taylor specifically to accommodate activities like the rodeo.
In all, the citizens of Georgetown and Williamson County have invested nearly $25 million in facilities and amenities to serve or support equestrian enthusiasts. The County spent $12.4 million on the Expo Center and the City spent $13.5 million on Garey Park.
4. Why was the public not informed of the arena’s exclusion?
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse was informed of the pending removal of the rodeo arena and the expiration of their lease dating back to at least 2008. Posse representatives were included in the development of the original Parks, Recreation, and Trail Master Plan. The Posse acknowledged that a critical item for their organization was to pursue relocating rodeo facilities to a new location in Williamson County.
There were in excess of fifty opportunities for the public to attend meetings related to the Parks Master Plan. A listing of these meetings is available here.
Along with these official efforts, there have been several community efforts to influence the past planning efforts. The most recent is the Save Georgetown Rodeo and Arena. Other social media efforts began as early as 2011.
Noting all this public input, City Council adopted and affirmed the current San Gabriel Park Master Plan. This decision was not made in a vacuum but takes into account the more appropriate equestrian facilities in the City and County, including the Expo Center and Garey Park.
5. Why did the City not agree to change the master plan?
For over a decade, the City has been developing and implementing a plan to renovate San Gabriel Park. This plan was created through a public process, included several approvals by City Council, and is funded using voter-approved bonds. Unilaterally amending this plan is not appropriate, and would not respect the community input that shaped this plan.
6. Why did the City of Georgetown not renew the lease with the Posse?
In 1987, the City and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse entered into an agreement for the Sheriff’s Posse to operate the rodeo arena in San Gabriel Park. Per the agreement, the Posse was to remit 5% of all income received from tickets sales for most events or rentals of the facility. Over the course of the 30-year lease, the Posse remitted six of the minimum of thirty payments required. The sum total of all remittances was $4,313.20.
7. Has the Posse given any indication as to where the next rodeo will be?
Yes, the Posse has shared a letter of intent to relocate the rodeo arena to Jarrell. The Posse has not provided the City with more exact information (e.g. the location, the seller, etc.). The Posse is currently working to remove arena footings, lighting, steel, and portable structures. Their plan is to complete the removal of these items by Nov. 30.