Historic A.C. Brase Arena Building is Getting a Facelift

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The A.C. Brase Arena has not had any significant improvements made to it in the last 35 years. The Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department will hold a "groundbreaking" ceremony Wednesday, May 13 at 10 a.m. to mark the beginning of several upgrades to the 70-year-old complex.

"The A.C. Brase Arena is really the home of all community events," said Recreation Division Manager Penny Williams. The arena hosts charitable events, community suppers, and other annual events like the SEMO District Fair.

The Arena Building was built in 1939. At the time, it was the largest architectural concrete building in the Midwest. It was also the largest Work Projects Administration effort of its type in Missouri and the largest ever attempted in southeast Missouri.

The 1940 Golden Glove boxing tournament was the first event at the new complex. Before the Show Me Center was opened in 1987, the arena hosted the large traveling events including Metallica in 1986, Jerry Lee Lewis in 1958, and Elvis Presley in 1955.

The building was last renovated in 1974 by the Arena Improvement Committee. Members included Dewey Koch, Gladys Cain, Charles Schneider, Weir M. Barcus and committee founder A. C. "Doc" Brase. The Arena Building was renamed in 1987 in his honor.

A sales tax to benefit parks improvements and storm water abatement passed in April of 2008. Voters approved a very specific list of upgrades including improvements to the arena, Shawnee Complex and the construction of an aquatic center.

Most of the improvements are standard building maintenance issues including a new roof, replacement of old heating/cooling units and an electrical upgrade. The arena will also get a new look on the outside and a generator.

City of Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson, Parks and Recreation Director Dan Muser, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Chairman Dan Essner, and Recreation Division Manager Scott Williams will make a short presentation about the building and the improvements at the A.C. Brase Arena.

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