View Full Version : All-weather arena dirtwork costs?

Jan. 23, 2010, 09:24 AM
Just what it says.... I'm wondering if anyone has put in an outdoor, all-weather arena lately and if so, what kind of cost was involved for the prep work.

What was required?

We have some really crappy soil. I'm not sure how to describe it. The locals call it "blackland" "black dirt" and "black gumbo". It's the stuff that gets sticky when wet, sticks to your boots and they your boots weigh 50lbs. When it dries, it cracks.

So, I'm thinking we need some pretty extensive dirt work and I don't even know what all is needed. I'm not sure if there needs to be gravel, rock, drains or what to ensure that the sand will drain and dry out quickly.

Any thoughts?

Anyone build one lately that can share appox costs? I am not certain of the size we'll make yet.

Jan. 24, 2010, 05:27 PM
I'll be interested to read what you find out. We're SW of Dallas (south of Waco) and have the same 'black gumbo' soil. I really,r eally wanted better soil when we moved, but this was what we got. And it is a mess when it rains.

Jan. 24, 2010, 06:43 PM
You will have to put down some sort of solid base, and either raise and crown it, or pitch it to ensure runoff.

Your best bet is to contact Bob Kiser at http://www.abiequine.com/products/arena_consulting/index.php
You may end up paying more, but you'll do it right the first time. Ask me how I know this. :sigh:

Jan. 24, 2010, 07:12 PM
First, pick a high place to put the arena! Water has got to go away from the site, and that means either
A: higher ground, or
B: fill it until it IS higher ground.
THEN you can start with a good arena base, etc etc. and do a footing that can withstand weather. PS, forget french drains under the arena - NOT a good idea.

Bob Kiser has made himself a great rep, and his advertising with the likes of Clinton Anderson has had a great effect, but there are OTHER great arena builders out there who will do the same work for a third the price - maybe better work.... Maybe less money than that.

Jan. 24, 2010, 07:58 PM
The most important part of building an all weather arena is the grading/prep. Don't scrimp on the preparation of the base, prior to importing the footing. It's easy to want to cut costs here and get excited about the sand or whatever "footing" you are bringing in to go on top, but this is the area MOST likely to make the difference in an arena truly being "all weather" and staying that way.

Jan. 24, 2010, 09:10 PM
I build sites that oil rigs sit on. It is not easy to describe what to do. Plus it is very site dependent. Drainage is very important as well as having the base layer compacted before you add your footing as SevenDogs mentioned. It would be well worth your money to get someone in with experience.
Your in Texas, find someone that builds well sites and ask for some help. Or road construction people will also be able to help, same ideas. Most construction companies have foreman, but sometimes their concern is money and not necessary doing the best job for you. It is better to have an independent person to give advice.

Jan. 24, 2010, 09:58 PM
First, pick Bob Kiser has made himself a great rep, and his advertising with the likes of Clinton Anderson has had a great effect, but there are OTHER great arena builders out there who will do the same work for a third the price - maybe better work.... Maybe less money than that.

But they do a free consultation. And I know that having had Jim Kiser come out and view my re-do before I started, went a long way toward getting it right the second time.

And, not to be argumentative, but IME there are damned few arena specialists in Texas. Plenty that claim to be, but Kiser is the real deal. In fact, I don't know of anyone else that I'd trust, and I researched plenty before my project.

Jan. 24, 2010, 10:10 PM
Contact your county extension agent or co-op. They might know someone who had put in an outdoor in your area in the recent past.

There is no way for anyone here to even make a guess on what you're looking at. It is "location, location, and location" driven.

You will pay $60-$100/hr. for equipment time, depending on the machine being used. I just had rock delivered for a barn/drivway project. I'm paying $18/ton, delivered. The price differential for different sized rock is less than $.40 (that's cents) per ton.

Go here to calculate the cubic yards of rock you'll need http://www.soilbuildingsystems.com/CubicYard.php

Go here to convert cubic yards to tons: http://www.reade.com/Particle_Briefings/spec_gra2.html#R

What you want to do is not cheap if you want to do it right.

Good luck in your project.


Watermark Farm
Jan. 25, 2010, 12:37 PM
Our 90 x 160 all-weather arena was put in by a contractor 3 years ago. We live in a flat area, so no major grading but we needed an engineered, thick base to accommodate standing water in winter. A lot of costs depend on your site, permits, engineering, etc. We did ours without permits and my father, who is a soil engineer, designed the base w/the help of the contractor.

Contractor cost was $25,000
Base materials approx. $25,000 (materials and trucking; I coordinated all this and paid for it directly, so no contractor markup)
Geotextile fabric $1200

Footing and pipe panel fencing w/kick boards ran another $15,000.
My husband and I installed the fencing, kickboards, and all the footing.

Total, about $67,000

BTW, the bid for the contractor to do the same arena but turn-key, where he did everything, was $90,000.

Interview and gets referrals. I found that the road to all-weather arena heaven was paved with MANY high-dollar horror stories, ie, $100,000 arenas that failed in the first rain storm because the base was not compacted adequately. Compaction, compaction, compaction! We used a contractor who does arenas exclusively and knew how to do one right. Did ours with a nearly 2% slope and crowned down the middle. A little more slopey than a dressage arena but I wanted it to drain fast.

This is a great publication and will help you understand the basic of arenas! ( +materials&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us)