Fairgrounds lease made public

Some areas are still being negotiated, including community use and naming rights.

August 20, 2010|By Mona Shadia,

COSTA MESA — The Orange County Fairgrounds lease agreement between Costa Mesa and a private operator, Facilities Management West, has been released for public review.

The 81-page document, which includes 28 sections, sets the guidelines for what Newport Beach-based Facilities Management can and cannot do when it comes to maintaining, improving and operating the fairgrounds.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece said she's reviewed the lease several times, but it will take her many more hours to thoroughly examine it.


Councilwoman Katrina Foley, an attorney, said she's setting aside the weekend to review the document.

"I know that the city attorney and our ground lease attorney counsel have been working around the clock to put together a ground lease that's beneficial to the city," she said. "I continue to be frustrated by the unreasonable timeline that we find ourself in for such a significant decision."

Facilities Management established a separate entity, calling it the OC Fair and Event Center LP, to enter into the lease with the city, said City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow.

Costa Mesa established a joint-powers authority — whose members are the City Council — to buy the fairgrounds from the state, act as landlord and negotiate the $96-million purchase.

The agreement will transfer the fairgrounds' personal property, such as equipment, cars and supplies, to Facilities Management. The city will also be licensing fairgrounds' trademarks to allow Facilities Management to use them for the life of the lease, which is 55 years, Barlow said.

The ground lease includes about 20 exhibits and schedules, but many have not been completed. Barlow said they hope to have them completed before the fairgrounds authority and the council meet Tuesday to vote on the agreement. Among the schedules is one that allows the city to hold onto some of the fairgrounds' personal property, which has not yet been identified.

The lease also guarantees that the fairgrounds would remain a fair and exposition center, adhering to voter-approved conditions set by Measure C.

But Facilities Management would be allowed to resize, change and relocate the existing operations within the property. The ground lease, however, prohibits Facilities Management from downsizing the equestrian center and Centennial Farm without the approval of the fairgrounds authority.

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