CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County leaders continued discussions Thursday afternoon about a proposed rural civic center.

Members of the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee heard from representatives of Johnson Consulting, which has been hired to work on the project. Some of the ideas include an 8,000-seat arena and fair space.

The center has been in the planning stages for more than a year since before the county bought about 500 acres of property off of Highways 501 and 22 near Hardwick Road.

Committee members were asked on Thursday to rate the importance of ideas on a scale of one through five. Other ideas included equestrian events, county fairs, and maybe, even concerts. Johnson Consulting also mapped out what each space could potentially be and mentioned educational spaces.

“There’s some decisions like that we could make but a good venue like this, we have found meeting rooms, food service functions, things of that nature, are important and then the education sessions do come with these types of events, and that’s the reason why meeting space would be desired,” a representative of Johnson Consulting said.

County Councilman Michael Masciarelli, who represents District 8, said he thinks partnering with Coastal Carolina University and including a veterinary program would be a great way to incorporate education into the project.

“A place for undergraduate veterinary studies, so when they can couple with a facility like this, they’ve got everything they need,” Masciarelli said. “Animal husbandry, whatever the case may be. And we are in the south, we are more rural, so I think it’s a good fit.”

Barry Spivey, the county’s assistant administrator, said $34 million has been approved for the project but added that the amount could change.

Regardless, officials said more money is needed for the project. Masciarelli said officials are confident they will be able to come up with the money by, hopefully, hosting a variety of events.

A representative of Johnson Consulting said he has seen other venues do something similar. 

“One night it was rodeo, the next night it was horse paws, the next night it was lawn mower racing,” he said.

Johnson Consulting will take the information from Thursday’s meeting and formulate a plan for the committee and the rest of the county council to review.

Adrianna Lawrence is a multimedia journalist at News13. Adrianna is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the News13 team in June 2023 after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2023. Keep up with Adrianna on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also read more of her work, here.