A request for proposals has been issued for private companies interested in booking non-fair events at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes, Onondaga County.
The main focus of the state's request is the new 136,000-square-foot expo center being built at the fairgrounds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $50 million project at the beginning of the 2017 fair. While the facility will be used during the fair, one reason the center is being constructed is to host year-round events at the fairgrounds.
When Cuomo unveiled plans for the expo center, he also revealed that a private company would be sought to book events at the building.
Construction is expected to begin this month, according to the governor's office. Once built, the expo center will be the largest facility of its kind north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland.
The expo center is the latest project at the fairgrounds. The state has allocated $120 million for various improvements in and around the fairgrounds in Geddes. The first phase of work included an expanded midway, improved RV park and new main gate.
"After back-to-back years of record-breaking attendance and with the completion of the new expo center as an additional draw, we will ensure the fairground becomes and remains a year-round destination and economic engine for all of central New York," Cuomo said in a statement.
With the request for proposals, the state wants a private company that will book at least 20 events at the expo center by the end of 2019. At least three of the events must utilize the expo center and other fairgrounds facilities.
There will be incentives for the company if it books events that have never been held in central New York. The contract will require the company to retain 75 percent of the events its schedules from 2020 through 2023 when the contract ends.
While the private company will be responsible for booking events, the fair will provide support staff — janitors, parking attendants and security guards — for events at the fairgrounds.
"The growth from the governor's initial investments in the fair and fairgrounds has been substantial and we know that this new facility will provide economic growth for central New York," said Troy Waffner, the fair's acting director. "We stand ready to work shoulder-to-shoulder with a partner who can help us realize the full potential of this exciting new facility."
Request for proposal submissions are due Jan. 31, 2018.