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Placer to negotiate with new possible operator for Placer County Fairgrounds, new vision for the facilities

October 12, 2016

An update and a new vision for the Placer County Fairgrounds was presented today to the Placer County Board of Supervisors. The proposal includes a new indoor sports and event complex on site, updating the infrastructure and buildings and creating different destinations within the complex - perhaps showcasing Placer’s growing farm-to-fork culture.

Supervisors today agreed to allow staff to negotiate with Placer Valley Tourism, the private, non-profit business that developed this new vision for the fairgrounds. Negotiations will cover PVT’s potential takeover of operations of the facility in 2018, upgrades and continued investigation into potentially building an indoor sports complex and event center on the site.

“This is a very unique opportunity because it comes from the community,” said District 1 Supervisor Jack Duran, whose district includes the fairgrounds. “I’m looking forward to working with Placer Valley Tourism, other interested parties and our community, as well as the county and the city of Roseville. It can be something we all can be proud of and will be beneficial to the region as a whole.”

“I'm excited about it; it's really going to put Placer County Fair on the map,” said District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes.

These new ideas for the aging facility were met with enthusiastic approval from community members who addressed the board. Nearby residents spoke to the importance of retaining the community feel of the fairgrounds, especially the youth activities and the agricultural heritage of the fair, while supporting small business, festivals and shows that use the facilities for their economic livelihood.  

With the Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee supporting evaluation of the opportunity, Placer Valley Tourism presented a long-term vision for the dated fairgrounds that includes a conceptual plan to build a sports complex and event center. Currently there is a shortfall of such amenities in the area and the 1950s Jones Hall on the fairgrounds is actually the largest publically-owned hall in south Placer County. A market assessment by a PVT consultant suggested such a complex is desirable and would fill a regional void.  

“It's the shot in the arm the fair needs to continue to exist in the current location," said David Henry, president of the Placer County Fair Association.

The fairgrounds, began operating in 1937 on about 61 acres within the city of Roseville. Operation and management of the fairgrounds have been handled by the Placer County Fair Association since that time. All the state’s 78 fairgrounds historically received fiscal support from the state. In 2010, the fairgrounds received about $350,000 from the state for operations, improvements and maintenance. However, that support dried up with the recession and the fairgrounds stopped receiving state assistance. When it resumed in 2013, state support dropped precipitously.

With the reduction in state assistance, the association has struggled financially and has been forced to reduce staffing levels, which affected facility maintenance and administration. The funding loss caused fairgrounds operations to suffer and the county stepped in, allocating $200,000 in 2015 for a capital project to deal with deferred maintenance.

Realizing a need for new ideas and input, the board created the Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee in 2015. The committee has been charged with assisting staff in developing ideas and refining concepts for fairgrounds repair and operations, and helping define a vision for the fairgrounds’ future.

The board directed staff to continue discussions with PVT to explore a potential partnership in connection with their proposal, with the understanding PVT could operate the fairgrounds property as a multifaceted event center, potentially working with partners on various aspects including managing interim rentals, conducting the annual Placer County Fair, speedway events or other future operations.  

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