No More Pig Races??
I just learned a bit a go that the Orange County Fairgrounds was sold off at auction today for some $56.5 million to a Newport Beach real estate group. Some of you know that the Governator put the fairgrounds up for sale as a way to help pay down the state’s burgeoning deficit. Now I ask you, with a deficit of $20 billion or so, give or take a few billion, how on earth is $56.5 million going to do anything to fix that? And don’t forget the state does get revenue from the annual Orange County Fair and the Orange County Fair Marketplace (swap meet), which now are on shaky ground with this move.
The new owner, according the Los Angeles Times, is Steven Craig, president and chief executive of Craig Realty, a commercial real estate firm in Newport Beach. Craig, whose firm develops outlet stores as near as I can tell, and doesn’t manage fairgrounds, told the Times: “I’m happy to keep the fair here. We like it that way. But we’d like to find a way to make it financially viable. Maybe a private enterprise approach will work.”
Beg pardon? Since when is the fair not financially viable? Since when is the swap meet not financially viable? A private enterprise approach? What does that mean? Higher ticket prices for the fair? The rodeo sponsored by Outback Steakhouse? Turn the Pacific Amphitheater into a guitar outlet store?
C’mon, it’s a fairgounds for all of us to enjoy and bring our friends and families for some down home fun and deep-fried twinkies. And I admit my family and I have had many a fun time at the fair so for personal reasons, we don’t want to see it change (see pig races above). But just as I have many memories, I know there are thousands upon thousands who visit the fair each year who feel the same way as we do.
We have three words for you Gov. Schwarzenegger: Leave it alone.
There is hope though. The state had hoped to fetch us much as $180 million for the land. That $56.5 million bid is obviously way short and the governor can now, with good reason, cancel this ridiculous idea and leave the fair where it should be — in the hands of the public. LA TIMES, DAILY VOICE, DAILY PILOT, OC REGISTER