Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to build off that success with a multi-million dollar investment in the fairgrounds — funding, he said, would help transform the venue into premier year-round, multi-use facility.
Cuomo proposed using $50 million of the $5.4 billion in bank settlements the state received to make improvements to the state fairgrounds in Geddes, a town in Onondaga County. The investment would be in addition to any capital funding the fair receives for improvements.
"The state fair is symbolically and economically important," Cuomo said during his 2015 Opportunity Agenda address Wednesday. "It gets a tremendous number of visitors from all across the state to demonstrate the state's development, the state's beauty and the state's resources."
Cuomo acknowledged that the fair "makes money for the state" — more than $130 million, he said.
"But the state fair, in truth, reflects yesterday's New York," he said. "It does not reflect today or tomorrow's New York. Let's reimagine the state fair. Let's invest in it, let's be proud of it. Let's get a private sector company to come in and partner with us and invest $50 million and really turn around the state fair the way the state is turning around."
It's unclear in Cuomo's proposed budget what the money would be used for. While there are other appropriations for the state fair, including $2.5 million for the Department of Agriculture and Markets, which oversees the fair, to make improvements at the fairgrounds, how the $50 million would be invested isn't outlined in the budget documents.
Fair officials have been planning for the 2015 fair for several months. During the holiday shopping season, the fair had a Cyber Monday special on 2015 admission tickets. The $3 tickets, which were half the price of advance sale tickets and a 70 percent savings from the price at the gate, sold out in 2 1/2 hours.
The fair recently announced that country music star Eric Church will be the first Grandstand concert act of the 2015 fair. Church's performance was the first concert fair officials announced for the 2015 fair, which will be held Aug. 27 to Sept. 7.