Del Mar reaches a deal to by fairgrounds for $120 million
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.
Last year, during yet another budget crisis, Governor Schwarzenegger proposed selling many of the state's properties for much needed cash. The 400 plus acres of the del mar fairgrounds, valued at some 800 million dollars, was among the properties mentioned.
But no one, certainly not anyone on the Del Mar Fair board, or the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, expected a deal without any public discussion or for that matter private discussion.
Board members found out Wednesday night that the fairgrounds was being sold in a deal that had been put together in secret over the last several months.
Democratic State Senator Christine Kehoe was very much involved in brokering the sale to the city of Del Mar, and the price tag, 120 million dollars.
The fair board President Nussbaum and fairgrounds General Manager and CEO Tim Fennell shake their heads in disbelief. The city, they say hasn't even looked at the fairgrounds books, they question whether it has the expertise to run such a complex entity, racing, a fair, not to mention some 300 events a year.
They worry that if the sport of thoroughbred racing continues to slump, and the economy remains stagnant, Del Mar will have trouble meeting its debt service and start cutting costs.
Anything is possible says fennell, when deals are done in secret.
Kehoe, told the Union Tribune Wednesday one of her goals was to bring control of future development closer to the local level. The legislator, who continues to push for a greenway in the area, says the move further safeguards the nearby San Dieguito River.