COMANCHE — Representatives of Waldrop Construction of Brownwood and the Comanche school district held a groundbreaking Monday for an event center Waldrop will build near Comanche High School for the district.

Waldrop Construction is the general contractor for the $6.5 million building, which will consist of just under 30,000 square feet, Waldop and Comanche school officials said. The building is expected to be completed by February 2021.

“We’re honored and pleased that we’re able to do another project for the Comanche ISD,” Waldrop president Sam Waldrop said.

Comanche school Superintendent Gary Speegle said the event center will mainly be a gym but will also be used for events including band concerts and graduation.

“We’re going to play volleyball and basketball in there,” Speegle said.

The event center will seat 1,200 to 1,500 people with another 500 removable chairs on the floor, Speegle said. He said there will also be a removable stage.

He said the existing gymnasium was built in 1975.

“We’ve needed a large one,” Speegle said. “We host our graduation on the football field, and two of the last three years we’ve had to go inside.”

The 1,000-seat capacity of the existing gym “is not enough” for graduates and guests, Speegle said.”

He said the district has been working on the project for about three years.

"Windmill money" will cover about 60 percent of the cost, and the remaining 40 percent will come from “the general fund that boards have put back for the past 20 years,” Speegle said.

Waldrop project manager Corby Rodgers said the building will be a monolithic concrete dome.

“We’ll do the permiter, foundation, come up with the brick walls,” Rodgers said.

Waldrop said, “The unique thing about it is that we’re having to bring in people from Utah. They’re going to blow up a balloon inside of it, an air form, and it turns into this concrete building. It’s very unique.”

Speegle said the structure is expected to withstand an F5 tornado. “We could probably get the whole town of Comanche in there if we have to” Speegle said.

“We’re just proud Waldrop got (the contract) and is hiring a pretty good dome building to come in here — the best dome builder in the nation, from what our research has (shown) before they ever came on board.”