Building for the Next 100 Years of the National Western Stock Show

More than 100 years ago, Denver, Colorado, hosted the first Western Live Stock Show, showing more than 350 cattle, sheep and hogs and providing demonstrations of the latest in breeding and feeding techniques for local stockmen. From these humble roots grew the iconic National Western Stock Show, now recognized as the premier livestock, rodeo and horse show in the nation, drawing more than 700,000 attendees each January. And while 100 years of stock show history is certainly remarkable, it is the next 100 years that have captured the imaginations of farmers, ranchers, civic leaders, businesspeople and educators.

The complex that houses the stock show is currently being transformed into the new National Western Center. The project, which has been called one of the nation’s most ambitious urban renewal projects, represents a nearly $1 billion public investment in the future of agriculture in the West.

During the Stock Show, the CoBank Livestock Auction Arena will host the iconic Junior Livestock Auction.

In addition to hosting the annual stock show, more than 2.2 million square feet of indoor and outdoor space will feature year-round educational and entertainment programming.

As part of its ongoing investment in the future of agriculture and our nation’s rural communities, CoBank has committed $5 million to the National Western Center, securing naming rights to two facilities: the CoBank Livestock Arena and the CoBank Livestock Auction Arena.

“The CoBank and Farm Credit missions align directly with the vision for the new National Western Center, which will become a world-class hub for agriculture, education and innovation,” said Thomas Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO. “We are delighted to be a part of this effort, which will introduce the vitality and possibilities of agriculture to new audiences and new generations.”

The 146,000-square-foot CoBank Livestock Arena will be the centerpiece of the new Livestock Center. With seating for up to 5,000, the space will be one of the most vital and heavily trafficked locations on the National Western Center campus during the National Western Stock Show and throughout the year. During the stock show, the 700-seat, 10,000-square-foot CoBank Livestock Auction Arena (the second CoBank-sponsored facility) will showcase one of the show’s most prestigious and iconic events: The Junior Livestock Auction.

CoBank President & CEO Tom Halverson and Pete Coors, chairman of National Western's Honoring the Legacy fundraising campaign.

With winning bids that have reached as high as $160,000, the auction not only provides financial rewards for all the hard work that goes into raising a championship animal, it also supports education, with 10 percent of all sales supporting the National Western Scholarship Fund. “The entire Farm Credit System is committed to encouraging today’s youth to seek a future in agriculture, and the Junior Livestock Auction does just that,” Halverson said.

Construction on the National Western Center began in 2018. Once finished, the center will offer a unique opportunity to connect the rural and urban economies. State-of-the-art spaces will play host to concerts and festivals, farmers’ markets, sporting events, trade shows, cultural and family events and conventions, and provide space for offices, business incubators, classes, public art, shops and more. Completion of the CoBank-sponsored arenas and the full National Western Center is expected in 2025.

This story was originally published in the CoBank 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.