Ag News

GNFA dedicates new livestock arena to former Gov. Sonny Perdue

by Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Mar 11, 2020 at 0:00 AM

4-Hers and FFA members showing sheep and goats at the Georgia Junior National Livestock Show Feb. 19-22, were sheltered from cold weather as they exhibited their animals in Perdue Arena at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter (GNFA). Exhibitors and spectators appreciated the warmth of the climate-controlled building as the goat and sheep shows have been held in a covered, but open-sided arena in recent years.

Located just inside the GNFA East Gate, the new 59,824 square-foot building has a 250-foot by 125-foot show ring with 486 stadium seats and an attached 20,272 square-foot covered shed. JMA Architecture designed the building and International City Builders Construction built it. 

Fittingly, the Breeding Ewe Show was taking place inside Perdue Arena on Feb. 22 as the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority (GAEA), which oversees the Agricenter, held a ceremony outside the new building dedicating it to former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

“Congratulations Sonny! We couldn’t think of anyone more deserving, and we sincerely appreciate all you’ve done for us. Thanks to you for your keen wisdom and your support of this campus,” GAEA Chairman Foster Rhodes said in his remarks.

Rhodes explained that the authority asked Perdue to support expanding GNFA facilities while he was governor. Perdue told authority members the expansion needed to be done in phases due to budget concerns caused by the recession at the time. Rhodes thanked the Georgia Legislature, Govs. Nathan Deal and Brian Kemp for their continued support of the three-phase expansion.   

Perdue Arena is the last of a three-phase expansion to the Agricenter’s livestock and equestrian facilities. Phase 1 included the Sutherland Arena building, a covered practice ring, the east gate, east restroom facility, guard house and public safety building.  Phase 2 included a covered practice ring and a 103,000 square-foot horse barn with 480 stalls.  

Speaking during the ceremony, U.S. Sen. David Perdue said the arena dedication to his first cousin was appropriate for the contributions Sonny made to the state while he served as governor.

“He did things as governor, such as funding the Savannah Port that positioned Georgia to be the best state in which to do business,” Sen. Perdue said.

While speaking at the ceremony, former Gov. Sonny Perdue said, “A better name for this arena would be the People’s Arena because the people of Georgia invested in this facility. What’s going on at this facility this weekend with youth showing livestock and the life lessons they’re learning is what this facility is all about.”

The GAEA presented former Gov. Perdue with a replica of the dedication plaque that will hang in Perdue Arena and the Georgia National Fairgrounds Youth Ambassadors presented Perdue with a belt buckle naming him an honorary ambassador for the GNFA.

Sonny Perdue’s wife, Mary, the couple’s four children and their spouses, and 14 grandchildren attended the ceremony with him.

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