Like an aging rocker—wrinkled but still rocking—St. Charles County’s Family Arena is going on with the show with the help of a $13 million makeover.
“So many people have enjoyed cheering at soccer games, concerts and shows at the Family Arena. Whole generations of high school students have graduated there,” says Bob Schnur, Assistant Director of Administration for St. Charles County. “Rejuvenating the aging parts of the arena will be our investment in the next generation of memories.”
The Family Arena, which opened in 1999, has never had a major renovation, despite hosting up to 400,000 guests per year. Over the next year, major improvements will include replacing the lower-level seats at a cost of $3.2 million.
“The seats are as old as the building. They have endured a lifetime of spills, and they show it—they look dirty, even after we clean them,” says marketing and booking manager Tom O’Keefe. “Having new seats will be a radical improvement—and they’ll have thicker cushions and be more comfortable, too.”
The lowest section of seats are on retractable platforms (like indoor gym bleachers) that currently require a team of workers to expand or retract. The seating upgrade includes an automated system to do the job with the push of a button, saving time and labor, O’Keefe says.
Other major projects at the Family Arena include replacing the video boards for $2 million and replacing the central heating and cooling systems for $5.6 million.
The rest of the $13 million renovations include:
- Interior Wi-Fi for guests
- New concourse signage
- Communication system upgrades
- Parking lot repaving
- Roof replacement
The Wi-Fi is a particularly big deal for concert fans, O’Keefe says.
“This has become a crucial part of the concert-going experience for many people. They want to share photos and videos while they’re attending an event,” O’Keefe says. “Right now, many people can’t get signal inside.”
With the added Wi-Fi, guests shouldn’t have any problem sharing country music stars or animatronic dinosaurs that visit the arena.
“Overall, the improvements are to make the experience more pleasurable for guests, and to modernize the building to keep up with what guests expect at other venues,” O’Keefe adds.
Over $10 million for the improvements will be paid by federal ARPA funding and another federal grant, while about $3 million will be covered by County funding.
The upgrades are expected to be complete by fall of 2024.