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$70M for Phase 2 of Unprecedented NYS Fair Revitalization
New York Ag Connection - 01/27/2017

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Phase Two of the historic redesign and transformation of the New York State Fairgrounds and endorsed the State Fair Task Force recommendation to expand the fair to 13 Days in 2017. Phase Two of the capital program to develop the fair into a year-round destination includes $50 million to develop an 80,000-square-foot, multi-use Exposition Center and an Aerial Gondola to connect visitors to the fairgrounds and Onondaga County's Lakeview Amphitheater. In addition, a $20 million investment from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative will allow for the construction of a new on-ramp to I-690 West and other improvements to the Orange parking lot, while other fair enhancements will include constructing a new Aerial Sky Ride and offering new, diverse events to attract visitors year-round.

"By reimagining one of New York's historic and beloved traditions, the first phase of our revitalization has already transformed the New York State Fair experience, strengthening a prized tourism destination in Central New York and generating record-breaking attendance in 2016," Governor Cuomo said. "I look forward to continuing the State Fair's momentum with Phase Two and the additional $70 million in investments to get it done. I thank the Task Force members for their quick work and smart recommendations for this next phase. The new State Fair will bring exciting shows, artisans, concerts, and local food and beverages to visitors from across the state and the nation year-round for generations to come."

In November 2016, Governor Cuomo appointed a State Fair "Phase Two" Task Force of 21 local officials and industry leaders, co-chaired by State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. The Task Force was charged with developing new innovative ideas that would build upon the Phase One improvements debuted at the 2016 State Fair and they provided their recommendations to the Governor at the end of 2016.

Taking into full consideration input from the State Fair Task Force, the Governor proposed in his Executive Budget $50 million for two transformational capital projects that will compliment and expand upon the work advanced in 2016.

Phase Two investments include:

- $35 million to construct a multi-use, 80,000 square-foot hybrid building and Expo Center that will be available year-round for local, regional and statewide events to secure the fairground's role as a premier year-round destination in Central New York.

- $15 million to build an aerial gondola to transport visitors and concertgoers from the fairgrounds to Onondaga County's Lakeview Amphitheater and the Loop the Lake Trail, creating an entirely new fair experience in the sky.

- $20 million through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative to construct a new on-ramp to I-690 West and other improvements to the Orange parking lot, to allow for easier parking, travel and less congestion during the annual state fair and other large events throughout the year.

In addition to these recommendations, the annual fair, which has historically run 12 days, will be extended to 13 days allowing additional time for visitors to enjoy New York's world-class food and beverages, agriculture, arts, shows, concerts, and more.

In 2017, the fair will also add a new premier attraction to the Midway, the Aerial Sky Ride, which will debut opening day of the fair on August 23rd. The Sky Ride will be built, operated and maintained by Wade Shows Inc. and will feature at least 100 double-passenger seats, giving fairgoers an unmatched view of Syracuse and the surrounding area while ferrying above the fairgrounds expanded Midway. Renderings of the Aerial Sky Ride and additional information are available here.

Additionally, as a direct result of the State's investments to improve and expand the fair, new events have already committed to the fairgrounds to offer more entertainment year-round. Right Coast Inc., promoter of the PPG Syracuse Nationals, will bring three brand new events to the New York State Fairgrounds in 2017, including Syracuse SnowCross, Kawasaki Syracuse StadiumCross and the Syracuse Man Show.

The 2016 Great New York State Fair generated the highest level of attendance with a record 1,117,630 visitors, making it the nation's fourth largest state fair. The State's recent investments in the fairgrounds attracted the biggest crowd in the fair's 175-year history. The expanded 15-acre Wade Shows Midway set records for revenues and number of rides provided, while fairgoers flocked to the fair's lineup of musical performers and entertainers. The fairgrounds' new Empire RV Park was also sold out.

The State fairgrounds play host to more than 100 public events operated by private concerns each year, including more than 30 horse shows, major trade and industry shows such as the New York Farm Show, music and food festivals, and many consumer products shows.

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