A major horse arena is planned at McDonald, TN., at Exit 20 of I-75 near Cleveland.
Mack Hess, facilities manager of the Tri-State Exhibition Center, said it "is a dream come true for the equestrian people in this area. It will be a premier facility in the Southeast."
Bids are out on the 70,000-square-facility under plans drawn up by Tune Design of Chattanooga.
Mr. Hess said the group was organized in 2000 and held its first horse show in November 2001.
"We doubled the number of events this year that we had last year," he said.
Current facilities include an 80-stall barn, three outdoor arenas and a pavilion 210 x 70 feet.
The new arena will be 320 x 240 feet. It will have a roof, but initially not have sides. Those are to be added later, Mr. Hess said.
He said the 92-acre site is just a quarter mile from the freeway. "It is an absolutely gorgeous setting with pastures and the mountains in the background," he stated.
Going north from Chattanooga, you turn left onto Highway 64.
Mr. Hess said the late Bill Hawk operated a horse arena at Ooltewah, but that has been closed for a number of years.
"After that, the people who show horses had to go out of town," he said.
Mr. Hess said the Tri-State Exhibition Center benefits Hamilton County as well as Bradley County. It is in Bradley, but is only a short distance from the Hamilton line. He said some of the events last more than one day. He said many visitors go into Chattanooga to see the attractions there.
He said the new facility will not just host horse shows, but be big enough for camping and RV shows and other similar events.
Max Everhart is chairman of the board of the Tri-State Exhibition Center.
The Hamilton County Commission looked into building a horse arena, but that project never got off the ground.
Curtis Adams, the current commission chairman, said, "We never could get the support for it. But we missed a golden opportunity, and now Bradley County is going to reap the benefits."