Del Mar Fair Board To Vote On New Indoor Entertainment Venue
The Del Mar Fair Board votes Tuesday on a new indoor entertainment venue, which would be built inside the Surfside Race Place satellite wagering facility.
Surfside was built in the 1990s to accommodate thousands of gamblers, but now attracts only a few hundred. The board hopes a music and entertainment venue will increase revenues for the state-owned fairgrounds.
The board has already approved half a million dollars for design studies.
Del Mar Fairgrounds manager Tim Fennell said the fairgrounds would need to borrow about $11 million to build the facility, which would have seats for about 1,900.
He said a study done by Cal State San Marcos business graduate students shows the theater is a feasible project.
“I think there’s a demand for it,” Fennell said. “There’s no venue like that in North County. It complements what we do. If you saw our mission statement, we are about agriculture and education, but also about recreation and entertainment.”
Fennell said this development should meet less opposition than other initiatives at the fairgrounds, such as the outdoor music festival KABOO.
“It’s indoors. You don’t have the noise, you don’t have the lights, you’re not talking about a lot of traffic. What’s not to like?” Fennell said. "This is is going to be a wonderful addition to North County."
Del Mar residents cautious
At a Del Mar city council meeting on May 15, two residents spoke in opposition to the plan.
One resident said the fair board is trying to ram the project through as fast as possible without any oversight.
Del Mar City Council members asked staff to find out if the project would need an updated coastal permit from the Coastal Commission.
Del Mar Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden said some community members object because they fear increased traffic and because they say the fair board has not budgeted enough for increased law enforcement.
“If they don’t manage it properly,” Worden said, “it could be a nightmare for us. So my mission is to work with them and make sure it’s managed right.”
Cannabis up for discussion
Another item on the fair board agenda Tuesday is cannabis.
The board, otherwise known as the 22nd District Agricultural Association, will hear a report from the San Diego County Farm Bureau on the commercial production of cannabis.
Fairgrounds manager Tim Fennell said he has signed an agreement to hold a cannabis festival at the Fairgrounds in September.
"We are not having a pot festival," he said. "We are having a medical cannabis educational event ... the Department of Agriculture and the Farm Bureau recognize it as a crop. It's not recreational, it’s one day, and it’s being put on by a local resident. He has put on the Home and Garden show for, I think, the last 30 years here.”
Organizers are calling the festival the Good Life Festival. No cannabis will be sold, but derivatives that have medicinal and nonpsychoactive properties will be.
The festival is scheduled for Sept. 23.
Tuesday’s fair board meeting starts at 1:30pm