Orange County Fair Preservation Society

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OC Fairgrounds For Sale?

July 2009
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It appears that is the case as late this afternoon The Orange County Fair Board approved a resolution supporting the sale of the property from the state to an non-profit.

The approval comes as just two months ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed to sell state surplus properties, which includes the fairgrounds, along with the Los Angeles Coliseum, among other state properties.

The O.C. Fairgrounds is a state entity within the Division of Fairs and Expositions, California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Mr. Schwarzenegger still has not ruled out selling surplus property, and this afternoon’s resolution from the Fair Board was also designed to let the governor know progress is being made in turning over the fairgrounds to local control and public desire to preserve the Costa Mesa landmark.

Don’t worry, the fair is not packing up and leaving town tonight. Part of the stipulation of the sale is that the land must remain as it is, an fairgrounds and event center.

The price of the fairgrounds has been valued between $96 million to $180 million. With the budget gap reportedly only now at $400 million, the sale of the fair will help reduce the gap.

However the question is, who will buy it?

As of now there are no imminent buyers, but there has been unofficial talk and informal meetings with Orange County supervisors creating a plan to let the county buy the fairgrounds and have it operated by an non-profit.

David Ellis, an O.C. Fairgrounds director, stated the Fairplex in Pomona, home of the Los Angeles County Fair, is the ideal model for the O.C. Fairgrounds, publicly own, but operated by a non-profit.

Despite the resolution passing the sale of the fairgrounds is not written in black-and-white.

In an email to the News Wire Jeffrey Young, of the California General Services Department, which would oversee the selling of surplus properties, claims legislation must be passed before any sales talks begin.

Also complicating the proposed sale of the fairgrounds to the county is the county’s own money woes.

For the foreseeable future the fairgrounds will remain in state control.


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