Our Impact Story

Economic Impact

  • Nebraska’s 3rd largest out-of-state event visitor attraction
  • 67% of visitors at 100+ regional/national events are from outside of county/state
  • Draws visitors from 40+ states annually
  • $50 -70 Million economic visitor impact per year for Lancaster County & Nebraska
  • SGEC’s visitor spending adds 700 full-time equivalent jobs, the majority off-grounds
  • Example: 98% of 1,623 participant families were from out of state at the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) 2021 (43 states, 5 Canadian provinces, Mexico, Australia & New Zealand)

SGEC Outside-of-County/State Visitors’ Incremental Local Tax Impact

(Estimates as of 2021 with peak attendance of NHSFR)


$2.8 Million

in State of NE sales & lodging taxes per year

$1.4 Million

in City of Lincoln sales & occupation taxes

$300 K

in Lancaster County lodging tax

Community Impact:

  • Southeast NE’s largest community & emergency center able to serve humans, pets & livestock
  • 69% of county citizens visit 1 or more times per year (46% 2+ times/year)
  • Home to 20+ local community groups, carrying out their own missions through regular events. Including further impact events such as monthly blood drives, election sites, and fundraisers.

Some of the community groups we serve:

Recent Service Stories:

Our Impact Growth Plans

Current Unique Exhibit Structures with Ag focus

  • 10 acres under roof including 3,300-person shaded grandstand
  • Convenient parking for 5,000+ cars and oversize vehicles (trucks/trailers)
  • 10th largest event center campground (1,300 campsites) in the country
  • Capacity and equipment for 3,000+ equine/livestock stalls and pens
  • Center of U.S. location and easy “on and off” I-80, making it attractive to national events
  • Known for world class arena footing and Nebraska-friendly operations experts
  • Largest banquet hall in the county with full on-site cafes, catering services
  • Arena buildings convert to carpeted winter trade and spectator show spaces

The Need for Capital Improvements

Like most Nebraska county fairgrounds, the actual facility repair, replacement, and improvement costs are real, pressing, and long ago outstripped the available, legacy tax funding system.

Increased usage and subsequent increase in wear and tear require modernization of the legacy funding model, a model originally designed to fund the facility to be solely used for the annual county fair.

Sandhills Global Event Center Fairgrounds has 165 acres of core maintenance, repair, and improvements estimated at $4 Million per year including the ability to save over multiple years for major upgrades.

  • 10 acres under roof including a grandstand with a multi-use outdoor arena
  • 55 acres of campground
  • 30 acres paved and 13 acres gravel parking/driveways
  • 46 acres of grass parking
  • 14 acres of ditches/drainage

Current Funding & Growth Over 22 Years

Lancaster County Ag Society only receives approximately $150,000 in property tax support annually for maintenance of the county fairgrounds which receives heavy use each year from 300 events while bringing up to $70 million in incremental spending from out-of-county/state visitors.

The county fairgrounds is currently completing fundraising for a $10 million infrastructure modernization it hopes to kick off in the fall of 2023.  Visitor amenities high on the list to be improved include lighting, digital signage, restrooms, kitchen capacity, flooring, drainage, driveway capacity and parking lots.

For over 22 years and counting, the SGEC Fairgrounds has grown to be nationally recognized and is now Nebraska’s busiest and fastest-growing fairgrounds.

The Lancaster County Board, a separate county-level political subdivision, partnered with the Lancaster County Ag Society to form the Lancaster County Fairgrounds JPA to issue bonds to build and remodel the Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds over phases since 2001.  Most recently, the County Board, with recommendations from its Visitors Promotion Committee (VPC), has been a principal partner in ongoing improvements of LEC Fairgrounds through ongoing visitor lodging tax grants to attract out-of-county/state visitors like the National High School Finals Rodeo and Family Motor Coach Association—two international events booked in the first 45 days after opening of the latest grounds improvements (expanded Outdoor Grandstand Arena, new National Event Campground) funded by two generous VPC grants.

Phase 3 of Master Plan

Final build-out of the LEC Fairgrounds envisioned 22 years ago.

Ag Tech Experience

Live ‘future of ag’ demo space indoors & out. Open year-round to 600k visitors. Designed for new youth internship, education and workforce development programs.

Ag Coliseum

6,000 seats around 40k concrete arena to attract more regional/national shows.

Pavilion 5

Connects Pavilions 2 & 3 allowing for more inter-connected indoor space to hold more events.