Governor Launches State Fairgrounds Privatization Task Force to Evaluate Options to Maximize State’s Investment, Grow Region’s Economy
Governor Unveils Date Stone in Corner of New Main Entry Gate Honoring History of Nation’s First State Fair
Construction of Redesigned Fairgrounds Underway; Components on Track to Completion in Time for Syracuse Nationals Car Show and the 2016 State Fair
Renderings Unveiled Today of Key Components of the Plan are Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced substantial construction progress has been made on the sweeping $50 million transformation of the State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County. Following a tour of the Fairgrounds, the Governor unveiled a new date stone in the redesigned Main Entry Gate honoring the history of the nation’s first state fair – one of many components of the plan underway to build the Fairgrounds into a year-round, premier multi-use facility. The Governor additionally announced the launch of the State Fairgrounds Privatization Task Force to evaluate options to maximize the State’s historic investment and grow the region’s economy.
“The State Fair is a central part of New York’s history, and an annual showcase of all that our state has to offer. Whether it's agricultural competitions, state-of-the-art technology exhibits, or live performances, the State Fair is where we show off the best of New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “Each year we strive to make the New York State Fair better than before, and with this investment we are reimagining the fair to ensure it remains a major economic engine for generations to come.”
The $50 million plan to redesign the State Fairgrounds, announced by Governor Cuomo last fall, includes a larger 15-acre Midway that will feature new rides, attractions and improves the visitor experience with cell phone charging stations and resting areas. The redesign plan also includes a 315-site RV park, 15 acres of flexible park space, and various parking and pedestrian safety improvements. Renderings unveiled today of key components of the plan, which will be displayed at construction zones throughout the Fairgrounds, can be viewed here.
Construction of the State Fairgrounds’ new RV park, expanded Midway and 15 acres of flexible park space is on track to completion in time for the Syracuse Nationals Car Show in July and the 2016 Great New York State Fair opening day on August 25.
The date stones embedded in the Fairgrounds' new arched Main Entry Gate specially honor the history of New York's role hosting the first-ever state fair. The stones are dated 1840 – the date on the original carriage entrance arch built in 1900 – and 2016.
While touring the fairgrounds, the Governor highlighted the return of Syracuse Nationals classic car show, which runs July 15-17, to the State Fairgrounds for the 17th year in a row. The Syracuse Nationals annually draws more than 8,000 classic cars and 90,000 visitors from all over North America. The event uses nearly every available Fairgrounds space and all of its major exhibit buildings.
State Fairgrounds Privatization Task Force
The Governor additionally announced the launch of the State Fairgrounds Privatization Task Force to evaluate privatizing the site to leverage and expand on the State’s $50 million investment. The Task Force will be charged with evaluating the prospective benefit of partial or full privatization to the region’s economy, plus the ability to maximize the State’s sweeping redesign plan and further expand capacity of the site such as by building a world class, multi-purpose expo center.
In the coming months, the Task Force will conduct analyses and a series of public meetings to collect feedback from the community and the State Fairgrounds’ business partners. The Task Force will deliver a report to the Governor by December 31, 2016.
The Task Force will be composed of a diverse group of state and local government officials, as well as agriculture and tourism industry representatives. The Task Force will be chaired by Matthew Millea, New York State Deputy Director of State Operations, and also includes:
- Richard Ball, New York State Agriculture Commissioner
- RoAnn Destito, New York State Office of General Services Commissioner
- Patrick Hooker, New York State Deputy Secretary for Food and Agriculture
- Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County Executive
- Troy Waffner, Acting Director of the New York State Fair
- Hank Greenberg, New York State Fair Advisory Board Chair
- Rockett Brunettiý, New York State Fair Advisory Board Member
- Bea Gonzalez, New York State Fair Advisory Board Member
- Van Robinson, President of the Syracuse Common Council
- Dean Norton, President of the New York Farm Bureau
- David Holder, President of Visit Syracuse
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said: “The Great New York State Fair, during its 12 day run, brings in huge numbers of visitors every year who are looking to get a better understanding of agriculture in our state, try new activities, rides and food, and enjoy a long-standing New York State tradition. These major improvements, from cohesive branding to the new gate and expanded midway, will take the Fair to a new level we haven’t seen in years. It will no doubt better engage the community and ensure its future as a premier year-round destination in New York.”
Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said: “Governor Cuomo is reimagining the Fair to enhance the visitor experience in much the same way he did for the Capitol and Empire State Plaza when he took office. The changes being made respect and reflect on the rich history of The Great New York State Fair, while at the same time introduce modern improvements that visitors can enjoy for years to come.”
Rob O'Connor of Right Coast, Inc. and owner and promoter of the Syracuse Nationals said: “It has been exciting to watch the progress of this project. We know that these improvements will help what is already the premier classic car show in the Northeast and one of the biggest on the continent to become even bigger and better. We at Right Coast want to thank Governor Cuomo for the vision and leadership to help grow our event and the Fairgrounds, and provide growth for the local economy.”
Frank Zaitshik, owner of carnival operator Wade Shows said: “We have been thrilled with our partnership with the Fair and New York State and know that with more space, we will be able to provide a better and more exciting experience for fairgoers while also providing the opportunity for significantly more revenue to the Fair. Governor Cuomo’s leadership in giving the Fair a badly-needed boost will pay dividends for all of us.”
The Redesigned State Fairgrounds Includes:
New Main Gate: Fairgoers will enter the 2016 Fair through a brand new, ADA-compliant gate, built to honor the arched carriage gateway used a century ago. The new design, along with the move to full use of electronic ticketing, will allow for faster ticketing and admissions. Once inside the gate, fairgoers will see a new entrance plaza that includes a large video board to assist with finding one’s way around the rebuilt grounds.
Revitalized Historic Quad: The historic area of the Fair, which encompasses the five oldest exhibit buildings and Chevy Court, will sport a cleaner, more open look, with more seating and new signage. Vendors in the area have been moved to the larger vending spaces in the newly-redesigned program area.
New Empire RV Park: A brand new RV park, called Empire RV Park, will provide 315 spaces with underground water, sewer, and electrical service, making the Fair more attractive to shows and events involving lengthy travel. Already, more than half of the new park’s spaces have been rented for this year’s Fair and every space has been rented for its first use, at the Syracuse Nationals classic car show in early July.
Expanded Wade Shows Midway: Special, heavy-duty pavement is currently being installed for an expanded and more comfortable Wade Shows Midway. Walkways in the midway will be more open, with more seating and shade available. More of the Midway’s electrical infrastructure will be underground, reducing cabling across walkways and improving pedestrian safety. Also, a new Kiddieland area of rides for smaller children will be adjacent to the main Midway and much closer to the main areas of the Fair. The open, paved space and built-in infrastructure will also help attract major non-Fair events.
Enhanced Pedestrian Safety and Vehicle Access: Hiawatha St., which connects the Fairgrounds with the main year-round vehicle access gate, will have an attractive greenspace median built along the length of the road from the back of the Science and Industry Building to the back of the Dairy Products Building. The median will lead directly to a new central intersection called The Crossroads, replacing the former tower, which will have a large compass design overlaid on asphalt. The compass notes Syracuse’s central location within the state, with points of the compass pointing to other New York communities. The Crossroads is intended to be a central and more open meeting place for Fairgoers.
New Gate 13 Entrance Near Onondaga Lake: A new entrance gate is being created, along Bridge Street, that ties in with the larger Onondaga Lake West Revitalization Project. Pedestrian access along Bridge Street is being widened and beautified. The new gate will allow people to enter at the space between the Center of Progress Building and Art & Home Center, onto Iroquois Street on the Fairgrounds. Iroquois Street leads Fairgoers straight to the central meeting point at the new Crossroads compass.
Additional construction is underway to improve drainage, programing and vending, and more logical navigation throughout the Fairgrounds.
Accelerating Central NY Rising
Today's announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested nearly $3 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.
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