Fort Bend County will begin to form an exploratory committee to determine whether a proposed multipurpose facility should be built at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds.

Commissioners unanimously approved formation of the Fort Bend Epicenter Project Committee at the commissioner’s court meeting this week. County Judge KP George tabbed Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales and Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage as co-chairs of the committee.

George said he wanted the committee “to develop a proposal for the planning, design, financing, development and management for a multipurpose conference center and shelter on the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds campus.”

George wants Morales and Prestage to “assemble a committee with industry experts, private citizens, technical advisors, public officials and county staff.

“This is something long overdue, so we are exploring the possibility,” George continued.

There has been talk of Fort Bend County building a multipurpose facility for years.

Back in July, Morales wanted to put the construction of a multipurpose arena into a bond package with other county facilities. But when the cost of the bond reached almost $233 million, Morales said he would table the proposal until 2020.

A study conducted last year by Conventions, Sports and Leisure International found that a multipurpose facility was needed in the center of Fort Bend County, and not just as a place to hold trade shows and amateur sporting events.

The facility would also be used as an emergency shelter for hurricanes and other natural disasters, researchers suggested.

The study also recommended that the facility be located close to the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds so it can provide more room for events during the Fort Bend County Fair and because Fort Bend County lacks a large emergency shelter. Also, the Fairgrounds is the highest point in the county to escape a flooding event.

Preliminary renditions of the facility show a 25-acre site slightly west of the fairgrounds, with a 103,000 square-foot building with a parking lot that can hold 2,600 cars.

The facility would have over 60,000 square feet of activity area and almost 8,000 square feet of lobby area. It could hold four basketball/volleyball courts and have rollaway bleachers for sporting events. It would also be used for high school graduations.

Also at the meeting, commissioners approved a resolution in support of six oil executives who are in a Venezuelan jail.

The men, known as the Citgo 6, were arrested while on a business trip back in November of 2017 on unclear bribery charges. Four of the men are residents of Fort Bend County.

After the meeting, George held a press conference with the families of the six men, stating that he and the commissioners hope that the U.S. government can work with the Venezuelan government for a quick resolution.

“We along with the State Department and the White House hope they can do everything in their power for a safe and fast release of these men so they can return to their families,” George said.

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