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Report Calls Fairgrounds an Economic Boon to Area

Times Staff Writer

Hoping to increase their stock as good neighbors, officials at the Del Mar Fairgrounds released a report Tuesday indicating that the facility pumped more than $74.5 million into the regional economy during 1988.

The study, conducted for the fair board by Economics Research Associates, also suggests that visitors to the fairground spent $12 million in the neighboring city of Del Mar.

Solana Beach also benefited from economic activity generated by the fairgrounds, the report contends, reaping an estimated $4.6 million during the year. All the estimates were based on exit interviews with visitors to horse racing and other activities at the fairgrounds.

Although fair board officials said the report demonstrates the positive impact of the fairgrounds, at least one Del Mar official expressed a cautionary note.

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“I don’t blame any organization for wanting good PR, but I want to look at the figures,” said Del Mar Councilwoman Brooke Eisenberg.

Fair officials, however, gushed about the the report, which detailed money spent in the region and neighboring cities by visitors drawn to the fairgrounds.

“I think these figures show the positive impact and good the fair does do for the community,” said Robert Spanjian, fair board president. “I think it will help improve our image in the community.”

Quarreled With Leaders

In years past, the fair board has quarreled with leaders of neighboring communities over traffic, noise, pollution and other factors. Most recently, the board tussled with city officials in Del Mar and Solana Beach over automobile racing that was held in 1987 and ’88.

Aside from benefiting the private sector in the local communities, the fairgrounds helped the municipal governments, pumping more than $1.3 million in tax revenues into Del Mar coffers and $425,000 to Solana Beach, the report maintained.

The report indicates that the fairground also created the equivalent of 1,674 full-time jobs, making it one of the largest employers in the region. The equivalent of 220 full-time jobs were held by Del Mar residents, while people from Solana Beach held down the equivalent of 88 full-time positions, the report said.

Results of the $16,000 study are the feature item in a new fair board newsletter that was unveiled at the Tuesday press conference. Officials said the four-page, quarterly newsletter will be mailed to 9,000 Del Mar and Solana Beach residents at an annual cost of $25,000.

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