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New York State Fair issues request for proposals to help book year-round events at the fairgrounds

1/19/2018

By Mary Weber

Photo courtesy of NY State Fair

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The New York State Fair has recently put out a Request For Proposals (RFP) to find a private marketing firm to help bring events to their new Expo Center and other fairgrounds facilities throughout the year. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the RFP on December 6th, 2017. The goal for the marketing agency is to book and position the new Expo Center as a premier, year-round, national venue. The Fairgrounds Expo Center will be the largest Expo Center between Boston and Cleveland. 
        
Troy Waffner, Acting Director of the New York State Fair, says that they are looking for a person or agency dedicated solely to going out and selling the fairgrounds. "The fairgrounds has now been expanded by 63 acres and we want to work with a firm and our own staff to market this space," says WaffnPhoto By NY State Fairer.        

The brand new Expo Center is on the fast track to be built; the building should be ready by August 3rd, 2018. Waffner is able to watch the progress as he reports to work on the fairgrounds each day; he says it looks like the construction crew will be ready to pour concrete very soon. 

One part of the job described in the RFP is to sell the Expo Center but, whoever gets the business will also be asked to generate and analyze reports regarding the facility, including rental pricing. Waffner says that the firm they hire will be focusing on the other 50 weeks of the year when the New York State fair is not running. However, the Expo Center will be used during the 2018 fair, August 22nd-September 3rd. Waffner says they have plenty of options for using the building during fair time. 

The RFP requires the firm to book a minimum of 20 events in the Expo Center by the end of 2019; at least three of the events will need to use the Expo Center in conjunction with other fairgrounds facilities. The firm can earn bonuses for booking events that have never been held in Central New York. The RFP requires the contractor to retain 75 percent of the events it books from 2020-2023 (the end of the contract) while still booking new events in the Expo Center and other fairgrounds facilities. The Fair provides the staff to manage the event including parking, security, and janitorial staff. 

The Expo Center has 110,000 square feet of flexible event space and 4,000 retractable seats. Waffner is looking for a private contractor who can help turn the facility into a destination for national shows and events. The Expo Center should attract major agricultural shows and special events including: car shows, trade shows, and equestrian events. Syracuse alone is home to more than 30 horse shows; "previously, many of these shows were constrained by the size of our coliseum. Now, they have the ability to expand with our Expo Center," says Dave Bullard, State Fair Marketing and Public Relations Manager. 

Attracting national, multi-day shows to the new Expo Center will have a tremendous, positive economic impact on Central New York, according to Waffner. "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. We stand ready to work shoulder to shoulder with a partner who can help us realize the full potential of this exciting new facility," says Waffner. The Expo Center encompasses 50 acres of climate controlled space; opportunities for the facility are endless. 

Governor Cuomo's investment in the Fairgrounds and the new Expo Center add to the "Central NY Rising" campaign which is the plan to boost economic growth and community development in the Central New York Region. "The transformation of the Fairgrounds has already delivered economic benefits to Central New York, attracting new visitors and showcasing the many recreation and business opportunities the region and the state have to offer," Governor Cuomo said. "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," says Governor Cuomo. 

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "The newly revitalized New York State Fairgrounds presents tremendous opportunity for economic growth in the Central NY region. With the addition of a new partner to book major events year-round, we will build on our accomplishments and set the stage for future success."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "We're excited to partner with an organization that can help the State Fair attract top, high-quality special events, including those that further our mission at the Fair to grow the agricultural industry. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's vision, we're pleased to be moving ahead with plans that will build on the tremendous success we've seen at the Fair already and help us take the Fairgrounds to the next level." 

RFP submissions for the private booking company are due January 31, 2018. More information can be found here: https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.



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