Mid-Plains Community College assistant rodeo team coach Aukai Kaai carries old posts out of the team's new indoor arena along State Farm Road on Tuesday. The goal is to have the arena ready for practices by the start of the spring semester.
Roughstock riders on the Mid-Plains Community College rodeo team could be practicing indoors by the beginning of next semester.
Assistant coach Aukai Kaai and the team's two bull riders have been cleaning up an indoor arena at 5773 W. State Farm Road, south of North Platte, since the college purchased it in August. The work has included ripping out two crow's nests, stalls, guide rails, panels and railroad ties – essentially creating a blank canvas the college can customize to meet its needs.
"Priority one is getting to a point where the team can practice in that space," said Mike Steele, area vice president of administrative services. "We're hoping to be to that point shortly after the first of the year."
The tentative plan for the inside of the 80-foot by 200-foot building is to add three bucking chutes that the team already owns to the west end. Behind them will be holding pens – linked to the chutes with alleyways, which will allow for the transfer of roughstock.
A concrete slab will be poured in the southeast corner for the team's bucking barrel, and new panels will be installed along the north and south sides of the Quonset to form a barrier between animals and the metal frame columns.
Before that can happen, however, dirt work has to be done. A combination of sand and loam is currently being hauled in and mixed with the existing arena dirt to improve texture. The arena floor is also being pulled back from the sides of the building and leveled out.
"We have to raise the level about six inches," Steele said.
Eventually, the ground around the outside of the building will have to be improved as well. The Quonset sits on seven acres – much of which is uneven and packed down. Grading is needed on the south side of the building so water can drain off.
The hope is that one day a lean-to and new corrals can also be built on the south side of the building to accommodate practice horses and bulls. Until then, the focus will remain on the interior of the structure.
It's the first time the team has had an indoor arena for roughstock practices. The timed event athletes can practice in the heated Alice Arena at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds in McCook, but that doesn't have bucking chutes.
Up to this point, the roughstock competitors have practiced outside at the Wild West Arena in North Platte.
"Getting this indoor arena is huge," Kaai said. "As a recruiting point, kids are able to practice all year long and be out of the elements. It's especially going to be nice in terms of how close the arena is to campus."
More information about the rodeo team and the opportunities it provides can be found online at mpcc.edu/rodeo.