County to Negotiate with Raceway on Fairgrounds

Commission authorizes staff to develop terms of move.

By Chris Eversole

The prospect of the Alachua County Fairgrounds sharing the Gainesville Raceway has moved a step closer to reality, with the County Commission authorizing staff to negotiate a deal with the raceway.

The raceway made the only proposal in response to the county’s request for proposals for a fairgrounds site.

Building new fairgrounds facilities at the raceway would save money because the county wouldn’t have to duplicate parts of the raceway that are in place, Campa-Palafox says.

The county previously was considering building a new fairgrounds on land that is  part of a 148-acre parcel known as the Wesseman Tract.  The county bought the Wesseman Tract, located at the northeast corner of Waldo Road and Northeast 63rd Avenue, in 2006.

County staff developed a $14 million conceptual plan for a new fairgrounds on the Wesseman Tract, Campa-Palafox says.

The fairgrounds proposal included a 45,000-square foot livestock exhibition hall, a 40,000-square feet of animal pens and a 30,000-square-foot auditorium.

The commission is considering issuing 20-year bonds financed by tourist development tax dollars for the new fairgrounds, Campa-Palafox says.

Details need to be worked out for the raceway deal, Campa-Palafox says. Although raceway officials are proposing a lease to the county at a nominal cost, the county would prefer to have an ownership interest in the fairgrounds, he says.

For several years, the county has been discussing moving the fairgrounds from its present location near the Gainesville Regional Airport in order to replace aging facilities and to open up the current site for economic development.


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