O.C. Fairgrounds Sold

The State of California accepted a Newport Beach real estate company’s $100 million offer for the Orange County Fairgrounds, putting the 150-acre property into private hands.

Facilities Management West was the winning bidder of the Costa Mesa, Calif., site. The company is to pay the state $20 million upfront, with the $80 million balance plus interest to be paid over 35 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Facilities Management West obviously is delighted and eager to demonstrate that we have the creativity, capital and commitment to operate this important regional entertainment center successfully, with integrity, new vitality and in the public interest,” FMW spokesman Guy Lemmon said in statement.

The Orange County Fair & Event Center, which operates the Orange County Fair, is not included in the sale. It’s not clear whether the fair and other events would continue at the site or be moved.

The deal isn’t without controversy. Many in Costa Mesa wanted local control of the fairgrounds, and passed a ballot measure that would have given residents greater input over how the property was used if the city had taken ownership.

FMW had been working with the city to finance a partnership. However, that partnership fell apart and the company finally submitted a bid on its own.

“The voters of Costa Mesa charged us with protecting the O.C. Fairgrounds as a publicly held asset,” Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Katrina Foley told the Times.

And one local lawmaker pledged to fight the sale.

“The citizens of our county want to keep the Orange County Fairgrounds under public ownership,” Assemblyman Jose Solorio told the Times.

The deal is expected to close in December.