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Master plan unveiled for fairgrounds' future

Posted February 4, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler on Wednesday laid out plans for a $121 million makeover for the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

The 48 projects that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services want to complete over the next 20 to 30 years are designed to improve access, exposition space, traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the fairgrounds and will allow the state to upgrade and expand its services, Troxler said.

State Fairgrounds master plan Fairgrounds plan to boost access, space

"Rather than build and evolve without a plan, we feel that any further improvements (should) fit into an overall framework for the future," he said.

The master plan, which has been developed over the past few years, calls for developing three main entrance gates, building new parking lots to accommodate 5,000 vehicles, installing 300 horse trailers at the James B. Hunt Horse Complex and setting aside space for a campground with nearly 200 campsites.

The fairgrounds has been home to the State Fair since 1928, and the last major building expansion took place in the 1970s. The Kerr Scott Building was completed in 1972, the James E. Holshouser Building in 1974 and the Jim Graham Building in 1975.

The James G. Martin Building, which opened three years ago, was the last new building at the fairgrounds.

Troxler said progress on the planned projects depends on the economy. The fairgrounds receives no state funding and relies on income generated from the annual State Fair and from trade shows to pay for its operations and any capital improvements.

Attendance at the 2008 State Fair was down almost 11 percent last fall from the record levels of 2007 – despite adding a day to the schedule – and the tight economy has adversely affected other events at the fairgrounds.

"We have no idea how long the economy will be in a recession," Troxler said. "We want to be ready, as we have revenues, to start to make improvements."


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  • boozoodoo Feb 6, 2009

    I just realized that I misspelled the word ridiculous in my last post and had a typo towards the end too. It was a long day at the office, but to clarify what I saying, I am not adamant about my suggestions for the fairgrounds and Dix and was mainly just throwing an idea out there to see how it would stick. $121m is a lot of money, but I can see how sprucing up the fairgrounds would benefit residents, even if it’s not what I would do as a businessman, but I enjoy taking my family to the fair every year, so it’s not always about saving money. I was just trying to think of a way to kill two birds with one stone so to speak and save $121m, but it’s probably not feasible the more I think about it. Dix is a big chuck of land though – about 300 acres from what I’ve read or 3X the size of Bush Gardens, Williamsburg. Now there's an idea...a theme park at Dix. Now that would REALLY upset some folks around here! But, since I'm Meeker's cousins, as someone said, a city park it is

  • boozoodoo Feb 5, 2009

    My comment about selling the fairgrounds for profit to developers for more hotels, restaurants, and shopping around RBC and then moving the fairgrounds to what used to be Dix upset a few people, but $121m is a lot of money, and I just don't see the ROI of spending that kind of money there, and over 30 years too, so it would really be more than that bottom line. Someone commented that Dorton Arena is a historic landmark, and I can buy into that as a reason not to do anything, not to mention the Kerr Scott bldg, but otherwise, it seems like more could be done with that space when the fair is not in town. It's a mute point because it would never happen anyway, but there really aren't enough hotels near the RBC Center. I'm not saying that this is the fairground's fault, but to suggest that folks from out of town drive all the way to Cary, NC to find a place to stay is rediculous, as someone commented. Try explaining inner and outer beltline to them while you'r eat it!

  • mpheels Feb 5, 2009

    And to add to Buddy1's comment... improvements to the fairgrounds are economically sustaining. Someone has to do the work and the materials have to come from somewhere... $121 million dollars worth of work of a 20-30 year period (completed as fund become available) won't make or break the economy, but it will provide a few jobs.

  • Buddy1 Feb 5, 2009

    "Lets use that funding for something economically sustaining to this state - Farming, jobs, education...anything but playtime."

    The funding you speak of is raised solely by the fairgrounds. Why should they use it to fund farming, jobs and education? It is their money to use as they see fit. They aren't asking for handouts...why should they provide them?

  • britt55 Feb 5, 2009

    Do most of you realize that the NC State Fair receives no money from the taxes placed on hotel and motels like the RBC Center does. It is a self supporting facility except sometimes the legislators will give some money for capital improvements. How many people do you think the fairgrounds draw to the city of Raleigh who spend the night and eat in the restaurants around town and pay those additional taxes that the fairgrounds receive no part of. Think what they could do with a portion of those proceeds. This is a long range plan and in the past 5 years or so there have been lots of improvements to the grounds and now they have a plan to do even more. Keep up the good work NCSF.

  • jjkilgore Feb 4, 2009

    Sounds like a good plan Troxler. No possible way $121 million dollars could be used in a more sensible manner. Nothing like an overhaul of the state fairgrounds so that MORE vendors can truck in a overcharge for everything offered.

    Lets use that funding for something economically sustaining to this state - Farming, jobs, education...anything but playtime. This state needs it.

  • icmfal Feb 4, 2009

    121 million for 48 projects over the next 20 - 30 years. The 121 million is probably in today's dollars. What is the true cost going to be by the time they get to project 40 in 20 years? Or does he already have the 121 million and has it stuck in a CD drawing interest?

    I think Troxler needs to rethink spending this kind of money at this time. If anything use some of that money to upgrade the education bldg and Dorton. Education bldg needs it bad along with a rodent exterminator to get rid of the mice and squirrels running around in there.

  • colliedave Feb 4, 2009

    Raleigh could be in the running for the 2012 NHL All-star Game. The needed upgrades to the existing buildings could help Raleigh get the bid. The revenue draw could well offset the cost of consturction,

  • any1butcarolina0405 Feb 4, 2009

    i say that money should have gone to stuggling farmers. sooner or later america is going to feel really dumb for ignoring these guys, not only will we be dependent on foreign oil, but soon we'll be dependent on foreign food. nice.

  • atc2 Feb 4, 2009

    Start the clock: As always in Raleigh, there is a project announcement, then a 10 year wait to break ground. That fairgrounds needs a major upgrade, it is ugly and dirty!!!!!!!!!!!