Monster trucks first for new Norris-Penrose entry

       The Norris-Penrose Event Center is known primarily as an equestrian site, but a monster truck competition will christen the just- completed $2 million entry facility for Penrose Stadium Saturday, May 20.
       Crews from Bryan Construction were putting the finishing touches on the structure off Rio Grande Street this week. The turret-ornamented building, which replaces a small, one-story ticket booth at the east end of the stadium, has two covered stories, plus usable roof space.
       “It's even more impressive than I envisioned,” commented Bill Miller, center manager, during a walk-through with contractor and architect personnel this week. He's especially pleased from a marketing standpoint; local interest is already mounting, and Miller believes the facility will help him market Norris-Penrose nationally.
       In keeping with the stadium's origins at the Broadmoor in the 1930s (it was moved to its current location in the early '70s), the new entry facility was designed in the style of the Broadmoor, according to Gene Yergensen of Yergensen, Obering and Whittaker, as part of what he has termed an “entry statement” for the events complex.
       Completing the work in time for the Nitro Promotions truck event was just a coincidence. Construction started last October, with the main goal to have the facility ready for warm weather and, at the least very least, for the 66th annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo July 12-16. Nitro won't even use the second floor or the roof. However, Miller said, when its owners see what the facility has to offer, “they may say, 'What were we thinking?'” and want to rent the whole place next time.
       In addition to being a ticket facility and entryway, the first floor has concessions and large restrooms. Its total usable public space is 4,000 square feet. The first floor will be open for all stadium events, as people must use it to gain entry and to access their seats.
       (Previously, people could also enter through the stadium's north and south sides. It will still be possible to exit those ways. Having a single point of entry will improve security, Miller said.)
       The second floor by itself, or in combination with the third floor, will not be open unless additionally rented. Inquiries have already been coming in about weddings, seminars, banquets and even proms, Miller said. For stadium events, the possibilities for the second and third floors include casual space for sponsors or for honored groups - such as Fort Carson on one of the nights of the rodeo.
       The second floor has about 6,000 square feet of carpeted public space, including balconies on the west side, overlooking the stadium, and on the east side, providing vistas toward the downtown and out east.
       The roof provides clear views in three directions, including down onto the arena, and includes a covered serving area. The public area is 3,000 square feet in all.
       The maximum number of people allowed in all three floors at one time (based on the fire rating) is just over 1,000.
       Development of the entry facility followed a transaction last year in which El Paso County - which had run the the former Penrose Equestrian Center complex for about 30 years but lacked spare funds to upgrade it in a major way - essentially gave it to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation. The foundation renamed the center, which also includes an indoor arena, stables, camping sites for event competitors and some outdoor arenas, to recognize Bob Norris, a major donor to the foundation.
       The Nitro Promotions Monster Truck event, featuring four vehicles and a “ride” truck named Nasty Habits, will start at 7 p.m. May 20. The latter vehicle, which has tires 73 inches high, will provide a monster-truck ride to event-goers for a fee. The competing vehicles, which will jump over cars as part of a dirt race course, are named High Anxiety, Renegade, Extreme Whiplash and Wild Thing. Adult tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. For ticket information, call 866-464-2626.

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