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Sale of Del Mar Fairgrounds Arranged Behind Closed Doors

The fairgrounds and racetrack in Del Mar may soon be in the hands of new ownership, according to state and local officials.

A preliminary agreement for the city of Del Mar to purchase the property from the state for $120 million was reached behind closed doors. The deal only became known when legislation to authorize the sale was introduced late Wednesday.

Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, said the sale will not significantly affect activities at the fairgrounds, according to the Union-Tribune. Kehoe was involved in the secretive talks on the sale over the past months.

Fair board member Barry Nussbaum expressed "complete shock'' over the secrecy of the deal, according to the Union-Tribune.

"Why this would have to happen in the middle of the night without consulting experts who run this facility is flabbergasting,'' Nussbaum said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had proposed selling state properties as a means to create new revenues. The fairgrounds measure is part of a larger budget agreement the Legislature will vote on today.

Kehoe said she does not expect the measure to be passed easily.

"It's going to be a challenging day,'' she said.

The legislation includes provisions for a city-appointed, nonprofit corporation which would oversee operations and maintenance. Currently overseeing the fairgrounds is the fair board, which is appointed by the governor.

The legislation only authorizes the sale, leaving the final purchase price and details to be worked out between the state and the city of Del Mar.

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