Nueces County Commissioners last week approved preliminary drawings for a new marquee at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, two weeks after rejecting initial renderings from the architect in charge of the project.

The plans for the $280,000 marquee, which includes architect fees in its budget, were unanimously approved by commissioners at their Aug. 11 meeting after receiving a presentation from John Michael, with Naismith Engineering, and architect Terry Orf. They both acknowledged renderings shown at a July 28 meeting were not up to par and in need of a redesign.

Initial plans called for a 75-foot concrete and steel structure covered in signage for a proposed outlet mall and advertisers, as well as a large video screen to display information on upcoming and current events at the fairgrounds. However, Precinct 3 Commissioner Oscar Ortiz, whose precinct includes the fairgrounds, was unhappy with the design presented July 28, adding it "looked like something somebody spent about 30 minutes working on."

The other commissioners agreed, and refused to even put the item to a vote, sending the plans back to the architect for a revamping.

The plans shown Aug. 11, described by Orf as being "at the 30 percent mark," shows a structure slightly shorter, at 56-feet, and absent of any signage space for advertisers or the proposed Outlets at Corpus Christi Bay. The idea is to allow for advertisers to purchase time on the marquee's dual video screen, now estimated to be about 16 feet wide by 11 feet tall. It will be visible to traffic traveling north or southbound on U.S. Highway 77, Michael added.

The design also incorporates a more western theme, utilizing the Star of Texas in the center and at the top of the marquee, while also leaving sufficient space open to lessen wind resistance, Orf said.

"This is a vast improvement," County Judge Loyd Neal said.

Michael said the removal of the signage slimmed down the size of the marquee, and will allow for better use of the video display. The simplistic design also lessens the likelihood of the project coming in over budget, he added.

"The last thing we want to do is put out a project for bid purposes and have to come back and ask for more money," Michael said.

Ortiz on Monday said he was pleased with the new design of the marquee, adding it would give a great ambiance to the fairgrounds once it is complete.

"It's much improved - (the design) has got more of a Texas, western feel to it," he said. "It's more appealing and it seems to go better with the (fairgrounds) facilities out there. This one, we'd buy."

The funding for the marquee is not being paid for by any new money, but rather funds reallocated by commissioners in February 2009 after voting not to construct the Heritage Center Arena. The $22.4 million in funds from 2007 Series Certificates of Obligation set aside for the failed arena project were redistributed to other county projects, including about $7 million for fairgrounds improvements that included the marquee.