Here’s what Dixie Sunbowl may look like if renovation project moves forward

ST. GEORGE — After hosting rodeos, football games and many other events for nearly eight decades, plans are in place to give the historic Dixie Sunbowl a facelift and comfier seating.

A 3D diorama of the concept design for a renovated Dixie Sunbowl was shared with the St. George City Council during a council work meeting by members of the city’s Parks and Community Services Department, St. George, Utah, April 11, 2024 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The city of St. George plans to renovate the 77-year-old downtown landmark that has become synonymous with the annual Lions Club Dixie Roundup Rodeo. These plans include the installation of better seating, bleachers with shade structures and reducing the overall size of the arena to create a new venue/plaza space facing 400 East. These changes would be implemented while keeping the overall footprint of the Sunbowl the same.

Last Thursday, members of the city’s parks and community services department met with the St. George City Council and provided a 3D diorama to show what the remodeled Sunbowl would look like according to the current concept design.

While the field in the middle of the stadium would basically be cut in half by a new seating structure, Mark Goble, a landscape architect with the city’s parks department, told the City Council there would still be enough room to hold the annual Dixie Roundup Rodeo. In its current form, the Sunbowl is one of the largest stadiums of its kind in the state, he said.

The remodeled stadium is slated to feature around 5,500 seats at a width of 22 inches. Currently, the Sunbowl can seat approximately 4,200 people.

Mark Goble of the city of St. George’s Parks and Community Services Department points at changes to be made to the Dixie Sunbowl as a part of a planned renovation, St. George, Utah, April 11, 2024 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Goble said the space that would become a “Sunbowl square” could be used to host smaller events like concerts, dances or even pickleball tournaments with the use of portable courts.

People in the square also would be able to watch the events unfold on the other side of the seating structure through a pair of jumbotron video screens mounted on its east side.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,” Goble said, and in reference to the concept design, he added, “We think it has a lot of merit.”

The design was also met with the general approval of the City Council.

“I like the civic space,” Councilwoman Natalie Larsen said.

Added Councilman Jimmie Hughes: “This preserves the rodeo downtown and so much more.”

Shane Moore, the city’s parks and community services director, said reception for the new design has been positive overall.

“This new design will serve the next generation for another 80 years,” Moore said.

Plans are in the works to renovate the 77-year-old Dixie Sunbowl with additional seats and a secondary venue area, St. George, Utah, April 11, 2024 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

According to the Washington County Historical Society, plans for what became the Dixie Sunbowl began in 1940 when the Lions Club formed a committee to establish a dedicated area for its Roundup Rodeo. The idea was stalled due to World War II and picked up again in 1946. Construction on the stadium started in January 1947 and concluded the following September.

Bobbie Laub of Santa Clara came up with the name Dixie Sunbowl and won $15 in a newspaper-sponsored contest.

The renovation project is estimated to run around $5 million, but is subject to change as concept design crosses into reality, Moore said. A local company has been chosen to formalize the design plans and get the project rolling.

Part of the funding will come from the city’s new general obligation bond for parks, trail and recreation facilities, as well as $1.7 million from Washington County via collected tourism revenue.

City staff hope to see renovation work begin soon after the 90th Dixie Roundup Rodeo in September, Moore said.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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