Facilities Management West, the group negotiating an operating and financial agreement with Costa Mesa for the Orange County Fairgrounds, plans to maintain and enhance the 150-acre property's existing facilities, events and programming.
In a joint statement with the city released Tuesday, Guy Lemmon, a spokesman for Facilities Management, said his group plans to maintain and enhance the use of the Equestrian Center and Centennial Farm, and honor an agreement with neighboring organizations, including allowing Orange Coast College's students to park on the fairgrounds, as well as continue hosting the annual county fair.
The group plans to meet soon with Tel Phil Enterprises, which runs the swap meet at the fairgrounds, to talk about a lease and draft a transition agreement, City Manager Allan Roeder said.
The city is also in talks with Facilities Management to find new ways to enhance the fairgrounds' use, which would include expanding the Pacific Amphitheater and enhancing efficiency by creating a "single ticketing operation," the statement said.
Facilities Management initially was looking to buy the state-owned fairgrounds. The group offered $55 million for it during a live auction in January.
After rejecting all offers as too low, the state began negotiating a sale with the city. The city offered $96 million, the minimum amount that the state was looking to make from the sale. Costa Mesa then began negotiating with interested parties who are looking to operate and finance the city's purchase.
Until last week, Facilities Management continued to pursue a purchase and was considered second on the list, as the city was in the midst of negotiating an operations agreement with American Fairs and Festivals, a newly formed group composed of vendors and stakeholders at the fairgrounds.
Last week, Costa Mesa decided to halt negotiations with American Fairs and signed an exclusive agreement with Facilities Management, which agreed to a public ownership of the fairgrounds.