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Del Mar Approves Resolution To Purchase Fairgrounds

Audio

Aired 12/2/10

Del Mar City Council has officially resolved to pursue plans to buy the site of the Del Mar Fairgrounds from the State of California.

Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest announces the city council's intention to purchase the Fairgrounds and the Racetrack from the State of California for $120 million.
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Above: Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest announces the city council's intention to purchase the Fairgrounds and the Racetrack from the State of California for $120 million.

Del Mar City Council has officially resolved to pursue plans to buy the site of the Del Mar Fairgrounds from the State of California.

Del Mar Mayor, Richard Earnest, held a news conference to bust myths he said have been circulating about the $120 million deal. He said the city won’t control operations at the Fairgrounds. Management will be done by a regionally appointed non-profit board.

“The city has determined that it will not have a majority of the seats on the board,” he said, “to clearly show that this is, in fact, a regional board.”

The mayor says the borrowing to finance the deal will be done by a separate Enterprise Fund, so the city’s operating budget and city taxpayer money are not involved. The Enterprise Fund will issue bonds to finance the deal, and three private businessmen who own race horses will invest $30 million and pay the city to lease the race track.

Mike Pegram, one of those investors, says Hollywood Park, another Southern California Race track has been bought by investors who plan to develop it, and Santa Anita’s owners recently came out of bankruptcy. He says horseracing needs a stable track in California.

“You have California, Kentucky and New York,” he said, “and Del Mar is going to be the lynch pin of all this, if this thing can happen, and we keep this a world class facility.”

Details of who would get revenues from events at the Fairgrounds are yet to be worked out.

San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater Price said the County was approached about buying the Fairgrounds last year. She said they declined because the land is in the city of Del Mar and the fairground activities are not part of the County’s mission. She supports the city’s bid to purchase the land.

If a bill by San Diego State assemblywoman Christine Kehoe passes this month - giving the state’s blessing to the sale - the city of Del Mar and the investors will start hammering out the details of the deal.

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