CASPER, Wyo.— JLG Architects will visit the Ford Wyoming Center in early April to implement a host of proposals to renovate and expand the facility, according to Visit Casper CEO Brook Kaufman.
Neither the City of Casper nor Visit Casper has committed funds to the project, but on Tuesday the Visit Casper board heard proposals for the 40-year-old facility to expand its use and capture more events , in particular the sports and convention market.
Kathryn Serrett of Strategic Venue Studies told the board that the Ford Wyoming Center had the least “functional space” compared to competing venues within 500 miles (although it was above average in terms of capacity).
Serret recommended adding a 20,000 to 30,000 square foot multi-purpose hall. The facility is expected to have three divisions with a flexible wall system to allow for various configurations, Sterrett said. This would address the need for additional space for conventions and sporting events in Casper. (The existing Ford Wyoming Center can only accommodate four courts, which isn’t enough to attract a regional tournament, Kaufman said.)
The facility should also be connected to the Center by a public walkway, Street said.
Sterrett also recommended a separate 6,000 square foot building to accommodate luncheons, breakout meetings and other smaller events. It should have six divisions, flexible walls and a dedicated entrance, Sterrett said.
For the Ford Wyoming Center itself, Sterrett said the existing “small, inefficient kitchen space” would need to be expanded into a production kitchen that could accommodate a 1,500-person banquet.
A relocation and reconfiguration of the ticket office, the expansion of some of the cramped lobbies and the addition of more upscale seating were also recommended. This included the addition of a lobby-level VIP lounge with views of the arena floor, which Sterrett said should be made available for general use at all but major headline events.