Q&A with Paul Andrews | Stock Show leader looks forward by looking back on a legacy

Paul Andrews wears more hats than a cowboy on Christmas at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. He’s the president and CEO, to begin with, but Andrews is so much more — fundraiser, planner, promoter and native son of the show.

His could be the First Family of the National Western going back generations.

His grandfather, Paul Pattridge, was a Jefferson County rancher and businessman who won ribbons and served on the National Western governing board decades ago. His uncle, Paul Pattridge Jr., was the show’s veterinarian who died in a plane crash on his way to the National Western in the 1964. Paul Andrews carries their name.

A former Kroenke sports executive for two decades, Andrews has been in the saddle at the 16-day annual celebration of the West since 2011.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced all of the events online or without audiences this year, though organizers are promising a really big show next year as they begin to rollout parts of a billion-dollar redevelopment aimed at turning the 100-acre National Western Center.

Colorado Politics caught up with the head of the posse about what he looks forward to next and what’s made him proud of in the past.

DG: How’s the show gone so far after the first week online?

PA: The virtual part of it has gone pretty darn smooth. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from the people who have enjoyed the videos, enjoyed the interviews and enjoyed the music, so I guess it’s as good as it can be given that we can’t put a live show on.

DG: How disappointed were you that you couldn’t do a live show?

PA: We’re heartbroken. We’re beyond disappointed. It’s heartbreaking for us as a staff, as a board, as a community. It’s what we do. It’s what we look forward to each year, but it was the responsible decision and now we’re looking forward to 2022.

DG: How would you characterize the political and community support for the show?

PA: I think it’s been excellent. Mayor Hancock is a huge supporter of the National Western Stock Show, make no mistake. And we’ve been tied to him and his leadership for the National Western Center since we ran the bond issue back in 2015 with his support, so we’re all in this together, and we’re pushing toward the 2022 show and opening the complex prior to then for some other shows, hopefully.

DG: How would you characterize the private support? Why do you think people open up their wallets for the National Western?

PA: I think the Stock Show is part of the fabric of Colorado. It’s been here, enjoyed by Coloradans, since 1906. The support is very appreciated. We’re humbled and honored by it, and we never take it for granted, but I think people appreciate that the National Western is part of the Colorado tradition that needs to go on for the next hundred years, if they support us through thick and thin.

DG: How would you characterize where you are in the redevelopment of the site? Is the end in sight?

PA: Boy, I’ll tell you, 2022 is a big celebration, because the historic yards will be completed, and that is a huge milestone. They’re moving about a hundred feet north of where the yards were last year. The yards used to run all the way north to about 58th Avenue, so the newest yards — though they’re moved from the 2020 show, a little north — they still are on historic ground that they were originally on back in the 1900s, so we’re excited about opening that, and we’re excited to open the Stockyards Event Center, which will open in the 2022 year also.

At the 2020 show, we had down in the stockyards the livestock center and another building we called the Pepsi building, which was the show arena that sat in the middle of the yards — it was yellow, it was tin — so what we’re doing with the Stockyards Event Center is combining those two buildings into one. This building is really going to be something. It is 100 yards long, so it’s a football field, and it has an auction arena and a show arena. It’s big enough that our flexibility for cattle shows and auctions in the building will be tremendous, and there are also hospitality areas in there that we’ve never had before that the breed associations can use. There’s a beer garden that will be flanking the building that we think is just huge for people to see the bulls and sit out there with a Coors beer on a 40- to 50-degree day. Stock show weather is usually 40 to 50 degrees and sunny in January, because that’s what we usually get. I’m knocking on wood as I tell you that.The other pieces are coming along. The new equestrian facility and the new livestock center are both in design currently, and we’re making progress. The mayor’s office for the National Western Center is the builder. We are an equity partner. Colorado State University is an equity partner, along with the city of Denver. The National Western Center Authority is the programming partner, so those four partners are working on this all together.

DG: When this thing is finished, what’s it going to say about Denver and what’s it going to say about Colorado?

PA: I really think this will become the epicenter of agriculture for the United States and maybe the world. I’m not sure there’s going to be any other development in the world that can boast research by Colorado State University on food, water and animal health right onsite. We’ve got people like the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association moving into the Livestock Exchange Building, which is historic. The National Western Stock Show will thrive under this development and the business model it brings forward with a site plan that represents how you would have done it if you had started this and done all the buildings at once versus piecemealing them together over 100-plus years.

This is a moment in time where we can set the site plan correctly for the future and, really, make this the Silicon Valley of agriculture, which I truly believe it will become.

DG: In a hundred years there’s going to be another Paul Andrews redeveloping this site. What advice would you give him?

PA: Boy, I wouldstart right at I-70 and Brighton Boulevard. This is cherished ground that has been celebrated by livestock producers all over the world since 1906, and the Stock Show belongs right at I-70 and Brighton Boulevard.

In 100 years, I would say stay on this site and redo the buildings to bring them up to the newest technology, then continue to celebrate agriculture for a hundred years after that.

As originally published in The Denver Gazette here.