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Supervisors To Propose Partnership With Del Mar Fairgrounds

Above: A crowd forms to feast on fried foods at the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Two San Diego County supervisors are poised to ask staff next week to take up an offer by the head of the state organization that operates the Del Mar Fairgrounds to explore potential partnerships that could lead to increased local oversight of the facility.

Ron Roberts and Greg Cox, the board's chairman and vice chairman, are scheduled to introduce their idea at Wednesday's meeting and ask staff to report back in two months. Adam Day, who heads the state 22nd District Agricultural Association board, told City News Service that the proposal comes about one month after he reached out to them via phone calls.

In a letter available online, Roberts and Cox called the fairgrounds a regional asset on par with Balboa Park and Mission Bay Park, and said more local oversight could ensure the future of the facility.

"The time is right for the county of San Diego to enter into discussions with the 22nd District Agricultural Association on the possibilities for a partnership that would provide operational oversight of this critical regional asset,'' their letter says.

The 22nd DAA is a state agency that operates the fairgrounds, the San Diego County Fair, the summer horse racing season anf a satellite wagering facility and hosts numerous trade shows. The supervisors noted that Gov. Jerry Brown is exploring options to shift all District Agricultural Associations to local control.

"As a regional asset, the 22nd DAA serves all cities and communities in the county of San Diego, making a potential partnership an ideal model for leadership,'' Roberts and Cox wrote. "The 22nd DAA is the most financially successful District Agricultural Association in California, with an annual budget of $90 million.''

The association's financial success means the county would not take on any extra financial burdens by asserting control over the facility, according to the two supervisors. The county could also ensure the future of the fairgrounds amid the state's budget crisis, they said.

Day said local control over the association would free it from the state bureaucracy, strengthen local management and increase transparency in governance.

He said he has been in discussions with the governor's office, and doesn't expect state interference of any plan to shift authority over the fairgrounds. According to Day, the association could pave the way toward finding a new model that would benefit rural county fairs all over California.

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