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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy of State Technical College of Missouri

A new multipurpose event and entertainment space is coming to the Osage Country Club in Linn after the State Technical College of Missouri Board of Regents approved a design contract to replace the clubhouse.

The 31,000-square-foot building will include a 50-seat theater, duckpin bowling, golf simulators and an e-sports gaming zone, an outdoor gaming area, a sports bar and pro shop, as well as a 250-person event center overlooking a nearby lake.

State Tech President Shawn Strong said the college was looking to provide students and the local community a place they wouldn't normally expect to see in Linn.

"It's going to be something that you would normally see at a fairly large metropolitan area," Strong said. "There's something there for everybody; whether you're into e-sports or you want to go check out a movie or go for a swim, we tried to come up with diverse entertainment options."

As the college continues to grow, Strong said, the venue hopefully will address some of the entertainment needs of students.

Over the last five years, State Tech has seen an enrollment increase from 1,200 to more than 2,000 this fall.

"We are definitely one of the fastest-growing institutions in the state, but we also know that we want to continue that for the foreseeable future," Strong said. "You need to be able to recruit students to Linn, so this is part of a long-term growth strategy."

He said without the college stepping up its game, it would likely plateau in growth.

Right now, Strong said, most students leave the area during the weekends or after school, but he'd like to see more participation in the community.

In addition to new student recruitment, Strong said, the renovation will help the college recruit faculty as well.

He said the facility might even attract people from all over central Missouri as the entertainment space will be the only one of its kind in the area.

"We tried to find things that are just a little bit out of the ordinary to give students something they maybe wouldn't see every day," Strong said.

With the city of Linn growing alongside the college, the plan for the new entertainment space is a way to give back to the community, Strong said.

State Tech will own the new entertainment and event location, as it took ownership of the Osage Country Club in May 2020. Since then, the college has bought a neighboring property for academic programs and 30 acres near the country club for further expansion.

Prior to State Tech's ownership of the country club, the facilities were largely run on a volunteer basis and was $200,000 in debt, Strong said. The college went to Mid-America Bank to pitch its initial vision for the golf course and buildings.

"They wanted to give back to the community, too," Strong said. "They said, 'We want to see that golf course thrive, and this is the only way we see that happening,' so they forgave that debt, which opened the door for us taking ownership of it."

The college paid $1 for ownership of the country club, he said.

The event and entertainment space building process is a two-year plan, Strong said, and the college hasn't started considering staffing needs yet.

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