Plans unveiled for Placer County Fairgrounds

By: Staff Report
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The future of the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville is in the hands of Placer Valley Tourism, and may include a new indoor events complex on-site, updated infrastructure and buildings, and a focus on the county’s farm-to-fork culture, according to a news release last week from the county.

An update and a new vision for the fairgrounds was presented Oct. 11 to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, according to the news release. Supervisors agreed to allow staff to negotiate with Placer Valley Tourism, the private, nonprofit 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.”

District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes said he expects the plan will “put Placer County Fair on the map.”

According to the news release, Roseville residents at the meeting spoke about 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. Arguably, there is a local need for such facilities: the 1950s Jones Hall on the fairgrounds is 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, and since then, the Placer County Fair Association has been responsible for operation and management.

The county’s news release said that California’s 78 fairgrounds have historically received fiscal support from the state. In 2010, the fairgrounds received about $350,000 from the state for operations, improvements and maintenance, but that support dried up with the recession, and the fairgrounds stopped receiving state assistance. When support resumed in 2013, the state’s contribution dropped precipitously.

With the reduction in state assistance, the association has struggled financially and reduced 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, tasked with assisting staff in developing ideas and refining concepts for fairgrounds repair and operations, and helping define a vision for the future of the property.

The board directed staff last week to continue discussions with PVT to explore a potential partnership in connection with their proposal, with the understanding that 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.