UFCU gives $105,000 for fair arenaPublished 12:34pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013
BERRIEN SPRINGS — Berrien County Youth Fair Association’s $17 million Expo Arena project Monday night received a $105,000 gift from United Federal Credit Union.
The funds will help sponsor one of 18 classroom/skyboxes overlooking the arena floor from the mezzanine level.
“United Federal Credit Union is partnering with the Expo Arena on this incredible project that will have so much impact on our community,” UFCU President/CEO Gary Easterling said. “From new jobs to tourist dollars, this building will bring so many positives to Southwest Michigan, and we are pleased to be a part of it.”
When completed, the Expo Arena will offer a year-round, climate-controlled facility that will be a landmark showcase for energy conservation and sustainable design.
The multifunction building will attract equestrian events, circuses, rodeos, farm shows, boat and auto shows, home and garden shows, conventions, concerts, wedding receptions and proms.
“The Berrien County Youth Fair Association and United Federal Credit Union enjoy a long-time partnership thanks to their sponsorship of many events,” said Bruce Foster, chairman and president of the Berrien County Youth Fair Association Board. “This latest gift to the Expo Arena project caps off a very successful fundraising effort in the fourth quarter of 2012. We are all deeply grateful that United Federal Credit Union has given us their confidence and support for construction of the Expo Arena.”
The proposed Expo Arena will cover 6.1 acres under one roof and will include a 500-stall stable and a unique indoor warm-up ring, a main arena that will seat 4,000 for show events and 7,000 seats for concert events and a hospitality center that will feature a 14,000-square-foot, all-purpose exhibition hall with a full-service kitchen, offices and access to the mezzanine level where the 18 classrooms will be located.
Classrooms, ranging in size from 20-by-25 feet to 20-by-45 feet, feature large picture windows overlooking the arena floor and will be used by young people for fair-sponsored classes, as well as meeting space for nonprofits and other groups.
Niles’ Jack Strayer, director of development and marketing for the Expo Arena at Berrien County Youth Fair, has been raising funds for the project since the summer of 2009.
“Raising money during difficult economic times has been a real challenge,” Strayer said, “but this timely gift from United Federal Credit Union is certainly well-received by the hundreds of people who have already contributed to the project and all the young people in Southwestern Michigan who are anxious to see the project through to completion.”
United Federal Credit Union has served its members since 1949.
UFCU consists of more than 117,000 member/owners worldwide and manages assets of more than $1.5 billion.
Its corporate offices and main branch are located in St. Joseph, with additional branches in Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio.