Orange County's first Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction will cruise into the O.C. Fair & Event Center this weekend, bringing with it an expected 60,000 attendees and a boost to Costa Mesa and Newport Beach hotels, restaurants and businesses.
The event, which is hosted by Scottsdale-based Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., spans three days and will feature about 400 collector cars on the block, demonstrations and parties, in addition to live online bidding.
"The unique thing about Barrett-Jackson is it is more than just a car event, it's a lifestyle event," said Gary Sherwin, president and CEO of Visit Newport Beach Inc. "It's absolutely fascinating, even if you don't have the means to buy a (classic car)."
Attendees hoping to get in on the action are expected to descend from the larger Southern California region, and even across the nation, according to Shaun Robinson, president of the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau.
Robinson, who also serves as general manager of the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa, said he expects the 486-room destination to sell out over the weekend. Area hotels – including the 13 other partner destinations such as the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill, Costa Mesa Marriott, Westin South Coast Plaza and the Fairmont Newport Beach – will get a significant boost to occupancy levels, as well.
"It's absolutely fantastic for business," he said, particularly in Costa Mesa, which experiences a slower season than coastal cities from June to July.
Area retail destinations and eateries may also see a positive impact: Fashion Island in Newport Beach, South Coast Plaza and even The Lab and The Camp retail centers in Costa Mesa are among those Robinson expects to benefit from the influx of visitors.
Additionally, the dates of the event coincide nicely with the Fourth of July holiday the following weekend. In fact, over the last six months, Robinson said a task force of tourism professionals – made up of officials from Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island, area hotels and the golf community, have been meeting to look for ways to expand attendees' stay in the area.
"People can drive from the Inland Empire, San Diego, Los Angeles, stay a few nights, take in the beach during the day," he said. "We've been working to get them to stay longer ... maybe even for a week."
Founded in 1971, the auction has become a key event in Scottsdale, Palm Beach and Las Vegas, and it even has long-term potential to be a signature regional event in Orange County, according to Sherwin.
"The West Coast is a vibrant collector-car market and represents a great opportunity to grow the hobby among new enthusiasts and veteran collectors alike," said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson, who noted that those interested have been hoping the car event would land in Southern California for years.
"We finally have the opportunity to bring the event to Orange County, and it has been a great experience so far," added Robinson. "We're absolutely hoping to continue into the future."
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