History of the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center
The Hopkins County Regional Civic Center was a vision that encompassed the City of Sulphur Springs, the Sulphur Springs Independent School District, and Hopkins County. Through leadership of numerous community leaders, the Civic Center vision came to light on January 1, 1979.
The initial need for a Civic Center arose when the original agricultural barn needed to be replaced. The city and the county agreed that a new barn was needed in order to host livestock shows. The vision grew as the school district became involved and initiated the efforts to add a new auditorium for the new high school. Sulphur Springs High School was built at the same time as the Civic Center and was built adjacent to the Civic Center. As the vision grew for a new arena and auditorium, it was agreed that a convention center would be a welcome addition for the area.
The Hopkins County Regional Civic Center was born from a combined monetary effort between the city, the school district and the county. Through this combined effort, the citizens of Sulphur Springs had to pay a minimal amount towards this project, which would affect generations of Sulphur Springs residents for years to come.
Through the years, the Civic Center has played host to many rodeos and rodeo championships. It has also been used as a stepping stone for musical artists such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney and others. The banquet hall, is also used to help host many events, including events for the schools in Hopkins County. The auditorium has been used for many concerts, school events and other community events. In fact, the original plan for the auditorium only called for 600 seats, but the Charter Board knew that would not be enough seating. They decided to add seats in an effort to make the auditorium larger and would add the staging items at a later date. By doing this, they were able to increase the size of the auditorium to 1,500 seats. Eventually, through hotel/motel tax revenue, proper staging items such as curtains, rigging and lights were all installed making the auditorium what it is today.
After the Civic Center was built, it was determined that the rodeo arena would not be large enough to host the type of events that the Civic Center wanted to host. Thus, a one million dollar grant was obtained by Congressman Jim Chapman to make the arena larger. The grant money was also used to make the banquet hall larger as well. The hotel/motel tax revenue also assisted in paying for the bleachers in the rodeo arena, horse pavilion and livestock pavilion. Through this grant and hotel/motel tax revenue, the rodeo arena has been able to host several large rodeos and rodeo championships, as well as large events for the city and county.
In 2009, as the demand for equine events grew, the indoor arena could not possibly take care of all the events wanting to come to Sulphur Springs. The Hopkins County Commissioners Court approved the construction of an equine pavilion boasting 100 more horse stalls and an arena area of 150′ x 250′. Hopkins County and SSISD collaborated to expand the parking lot for the adjacent Gerald Prim Stadium thereby making one large parking area to be shared by the Civic Center and SSISD.
During 2013, the entire Exhibit Hall, foyers, restrooms, office area, Concession Stand and Board room were totally remodeled to give the facility a more contemporary look. Carpet was put down in the exhibit hall and a state of the art audio/video system was installed bringing a new era of luxury to the Civic Center patrons.
In 2015, the Hopkins County Commissioners Court and SSISD came together on a 35-year agreement to lease the auditorium to SSISD for school functions. Though the Civic Center could continue to lease the area, it primarily became focused on school activities. As payment for the lease, SSISD funded a five million dollar remodel and addition of the auditorium. New ceilings, walls, restrooms, stage floor, roof and seating was installed. A workshop space was also added behind the stage area. New fire safety alarms were installed. Public areas were brought into the latest compliance requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (thus the seating area was changed from 1,500 seats to 1,250 to accommodate for exit ramps).
Through the efforts of the county, city, school district, citizens of Sulphur Springs, and key community leaders, the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center has become an icon not only in Sulphur Springs, but in Hopkins County.