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Wednesday, December 01, 2021
<p>The Alachua County Fair, which was canceled in 2010 for the first time in 40 years due to financial problems, may be moving from its current location in east Gainesville to Newberry depending on a decision from the Alachua County Commission.</p>

The Alachua County Fair, which was canceled in 2010 for the first time in 40 years due to financial problems, may be moving from its current location in east Gainesville to Newberry depending on a decision from the Alachua County Commission.

The Alachua County Commission has once again opted to postpone the decision to move county fairgrounds from its current location in east Gainesville to Newberry.

After nearly a decade of stalled efforts in appropriating the fairground land by the City of Gainesville and Alachua County, the decision leaves many questions open.

Plan East Gainesville, a redevelopment plan completed in 2003, makes reinvestment on the east side a priority for the city, but the city of Newberry's newest proposal calls to move the fairgrounds to the west.

City officials argue that moving the fairgrounds to the west would further debilitate East Gainesville's dwindling economy.

Some county officials have also recognized that moving the fairgrounds neglects the original incentives in Plan East Gainesville.

"Newer development has generally been focused in the west, and the city is concerned that it's just another piece being taken away from east Gainesville," said Deputy County Manager Rick Drummond.

East Gainesville has been left out in terms of economic development, and the city wants to keep the fairgrounds there as an economic driver, Drummond said.

"We're still moving forward with plans for the fairgrounds," Drummond said. "Just a bit slower than we expected."

He said county officials, on the other hand, understand that the land hasn't been adequately used, and the Newberry proposal focuses primarily on the full use of that land.

Projected construction costs outlined in Plan East Gainesville are estimated over $40 million.

The Commission-approved plan includes the construction of a 50,000 square foot coliseum, a 48,000 square foot exhibition hall, a 50,000 square foot equestrian and livestock arena, an events lawn and a parking area. Construction would start in April 2012.

A 2-percent Tourist Development Tax would be implemented to offset costs.

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The Tourist Development Tax, which is funded by tourists to the area, would be added to hotel and motel bills, campsites and short-term rentals.

The annual expected return of the Tourist Development Tax would be $650,000.

During a commission meeting Tuesday, county commissioners urged that moving the fairgrounds to Newberry makes more sense economically because sports tourism facilities already exist in the area and would only further stem business for the fairgrounds.

Earlier this year, plans to gauge interest for the land in the private sector were met with little enthusiasm.

The Alachua County Fair, which was canceled in 2010 for the first time in 40 years due to financial problems, may be moving from its current location in east Gainesville to Newberry depending on a decision from the Alachua County Commission.

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