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Supes, Placer Valley Tourism commit $6M for fairgrounds renovation

Board formally designates Placer Valley Tourism as fairground operator
By: Graham Womack, Staff Writer
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David Attaway hopes a new events center at the Placer County Fairgrounds could be open within three years.

It’s an optimistic, very tentative schedule for a building that could cost north of $25 million and potentially revitalize the aging fairgrounds.

“If we’re not optimistic, then it doesn’t move forward,” said Attaway, executive director of Placer Valley Tourism. “And we’re very optimistic.”

In the meantime, other work continues around the fairgrounds. On Tuesday, the Placer County Board of Supervisors designated Attaway’s group as the new fairgrounds operator and voted to give the group $2 million toward repairs and renovations on-site.

Placer Valley Tourism, a self-assessed group of hoteliers throughout the region, will contribute another $4 million for these expenses.

A county memorandum included on the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting lists 21 repairs needed for the fairgrounds, ranging from a landscape screen at Washington Boulevard to relocating spaces at the RV campground to renovations for various buildings.

It might be several years before the vision of the revived fairgrounds is fully realized.

“I think it will ultimately be a long-term project evolving over (many) years,” Attaway said. “But if we’re talking about the pieces we’re talking about today, I’m hopeful we can have those accomplished by the end of 2019.”

The memorandum noted that repair work will begin July 1, with the buildings reopening in October and repairs due to be completed in January 2018.

Though there are no publicly available renderings for the events center, Attaway praised the early plans.

“I think it’s a great project,” Attaway said of the center. “I think it will be a tremendous economic benefit to the community as well as provide a place for youths to participate in tournaments and help us generate some overnight stays for the hotel industry.”

He added that it could boost the surrounding neighborhood.

Placer County spokesman Chris Gray-Garcia said the fairgrounds could be revitalized.

“That’s the goal here for sure,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of excitement around the opportunity to do that.”

Attaway said that Placer Valley Tourism has retained Williams+Paddon Architects as a design company and Roebbelen as a general contractor for the repair and renovation work at the fairgrounds. He didn’t know if either company would be used for the events center.

“I certainly think they’re qualified,” Attaway said. “We’re not at that stage yet in terms of the big building. We’re still doing a lot of research work on it and compiling data. And obviously, one of the things is it would have to be approved. There are a lot of steps before the big building is complete.”

Attaway said Wednesday that he would be meeting with at least one of the firms the following day to discuss the scope of the work.

He noted that right now, many local organizations and nonprofits use the fairgrounds for events, and where they’ll go during construction has yet to be determined.

“Once we know what we think the construction schedule is going to be—and that’s the kind of stuff we’re really talking about tomorrow—then we’re going to be reaching out to people to see what are the alternatives for relocating or changing their booking,” Attaway said.