Lawmakers to consider business plan outlining future of Utah State Fair

Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 20:48:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Filled with 160 years of family tradition and family fun, the Utah State Fair is in full swing for its annual ten-day run.

Hundreds of thousands will flood the gates, but some notice more than just the attractions.

“It feels a little run down to me,” said Raydon Cardenas.

“They could definitely use some renovating,” echoed Crystal Coon.

The fair board agrees the park needs a lot of work. A study done on the grounds has a laundry list of renovations. For starters, Interim Executive Director Ted Lewis said they need to look at the electricity and water drainage.

He said the study suggested that, “over twenty years, there was a need about for 33 million dollars’ worth of infrastructure kind of upgrade."

Lewis said they’ve prepared a business plan that outlines the future of the fair park. They’ll present it to a legislative subcommittee on Friday.

"It talks about the plans generally going forward,” he said. “but it gets down to some specifics with a couple of proposals."

He couldn’t give out the exact details, he said, until lawmakers had a chance to hear the plan first.

But this all depends on if the fair can continue in its current spot at the park. The lease on the land, which is owned by the state, is up in 2017.

Lewis said the fair board wants to sign a 50-year lease. Lawmakers have the final say.

"It's time that we take a very serious look at that future and make the decision going forward if that’s going to be the site for the fair," said State Rep. Froerer Gage, R-District 8.

Froerer said there’s a lot to mull over, and questions for them to answer, like: Is that the best location? Is there opportunity for the state to further develop the site?

"I’d like to see some type of mixed use,” he said. “Some commercial, some office, possibly residential."

He said he’d like to see more development, even if the fair does stay at that current site.

And, of course, there’s the infrastructure upgrades. He said the legislature would have to decide how much the state is willing to chip in, and what gets renovated.

Lewis hopes they’ll get that 50-year lease, so they can start moving forward with their business plan.

He said they have other ideas for expansion too.

"There's a lot of interest and support of increasing the number of events that are held at the fairgrounds throughout the year," Lewis said.

For now, fair-goers have a lot of excitement ahead in the coming days, while the fair board and lawmakers figure out what the space will look like for the next several years.

The fair began Thursday and continues through September 20. Visit the fair's website for more information about events and tickets.