Parish considers buying Lamar-Dixon

Staff reports
The fate of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales may lie in the hands of parish voters in November, if Parish President Tommy Martinez and the Parish Council place a 3-mill property tax issue on the ballot. Martinez has said that if voters do not pass the tax, he will not renew the current lease-purchase agreement between parish government and the Lamar-Dixon Foundation.

Ascension Parish officials are set to hold a special meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Ascension Courthouse East in Gonzales to discuss purchasing the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

Parish President Tommy Martinez and council members are expected to discuss the possibility of invoking the lease agreement’s purchase clause.

Parish voters rejected a proposed 3-mill property tax on the ballot last year. Approval would have allowed parish government to buy the $50 million facility for $7.5 million.

The vote came to 24,898 against the proposal, to 17,039 in favor of it.

Bill and Mary Lee Dixon opened the center in 2000. The facility, located on some 250 acres on St. Landry Road just south of Hwy. 30 and near Interstate 10, is primarily an equestrian center.

The center has shown its versatility over the years as it has hosted a variety of events, such as the parish’s bicentennial celebration, statewide livestock shows, rodeos, circuses, concerts and shows.

The center also was utilized as a staging area and shelter for both people and animals after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav.

The multi-purpose facility’s final listing is the Classic Arms Gun and Knife Show, set for June 27-28, according to the center’s Web site.

The Dixons lease the facility to parish government, which hired SMG to manage it. The lease is set to expire June 30.

SMG also operate the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans and the River Center in Baton Rouge, among other facilities around the world.