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First phase of fairgrounds renovations nearing completion

Two halls likely open by mid-October; environmental report underway for events complex
By: Graham Womack, Staff Writer
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When renovation work began at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville in July, shortly after the annual county fair, it left a three-month window before scheduled fall events at the center.

Days before a 1,000-dog show by the American Kennel Club at Jones Hall on Oct. 8, renovation work appears to be right on-track, replete with a new name for the center: @ the Grounds.

Two aging auditoriums at the center, Jones and Johnson halls have received paint jobs and interior work. In between these two buildings, concrete has been poured with some space reserved for decomposed granite. Nearby, grading work has begun on the center’s parking lot.

The best could be yet to come, with change happening rapidly at the fairgrounds.

“Next week, you’ll see this all lush and green,” said David Attaway, chief executive officer for Placer Valley Tourism and @ the Grounds, during a tour of the construction site on Monday while a team of workers went about their business in the direct vicinity.

Jones is slated to re-open Oct. 6, Johnson likely by Oct. 15-16, Attaway said.

A larger project, a $36 million events complex, is also beginning to pick up steam. On Sept. 6, Roseville City Council approved allowing Placer Valley Tourism or another group to privately bond the full amount of construction costs at once.

An environmental impact report is also being conducted for the complex, Attaway said. He hopes it will be completed by February or March, which would help allow work to begin.

The events complex could seat 5,000 and be a draw for high school athletics tournaments, concerts and trade shows. Attaway said there have some preliminary discussions with William Jessup University in Rocklin about hosting a women’s basketball tournament in the complex.

It’s a big change for what formerly might have just have been seen as a fairground, though Attaway noted this was something that would only happen a few days a year.

Of the new, tentative scope of events, he said, “You envision it and you make it at happen ‘at the grounds.’”

He anticipated that people would have a good understanding of the new center in two years and that it would take five years for the rest of the pieces to be put in.

He’s a fan of the location, near Old Town Roseville, having said repeatedly that he lives nearby.

“This is a very special site, to have 60 acres in the heart of town,” Attaway said.

Not everyone’s a fan of the changes, though.

Roseville resident Gary Miller said via email that people who live in Diamond K Estates near the fairgrounds “only have one way in and one way out via Washington Blvd.  It is already difficult getting in and out of our community because of traffic on Washington.”

Miller added, “We have sent letters to the city council (two members never even responded) and city manager and no one seems to be able to do anything.  The traffic will get so bad that we will need food and medicine airlifted into our community.”

Attaway is confident more people will warm to the renovations.

“We think as we move forward, people will get a good understanding that we intend to be good caretakers,” Attaway said.