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Fairgrounds officials hope to strike deal with Barrett-Jackson

The venue could become the Southern California home for the popular collector car show.

BY OC METRO STAFFPublished: March 24, 2011 11:21 AM

The OC Fair and Event Center board of directors are negotiating a long-term contract to host the popular Barrett-Jackson collector car auction, and the talks include building an 85,000-square-foot exhibit hall for the event.

Barrett-Jackson made its Orange County debut last year.

“Southern California is home for so many passionate car collectors and hobbyists, which makes Orange County an ideal location for our event,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson.

Construction of the new exhibit hall falls in line with the second phase of the fairgrounds’ master plan. The first phase included construction of The Hangar entertainment venue and new administration offices.

The board also is in the process of seeking a private sponsor in the redevelopment of the Pacific Amphitheatre – a project targeted for completion by July 2013, in time for that year’s fair.

It’s all part of a larger effort to build partnerships and profitability for the fairgrounds. And to aid that endeavor, the board also has been meeting with Costa Mesa city officials and the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau.

“We know we can work closely with them to increase visitors to Costa Mesa,” said Paulette Lombardi-Fries, the bureau’s president.
The theme of this year’s OC Fair – scheduled for July 15 to Aug. 14 – is “Let’s Eat!” Last year’s fair was ranked as the eighth-most attended U.S. fair by Venues Today magazine.