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Cuomo discusses spending $50 million more on State Fairgrounds improvements

By Eric Reinhardt


The new main gate at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes is part of the state’s $50 million improvement plan for the venue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a task force that will make recommendations for further improvements in phase two of the State Fair master plan. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN file photo)

GEDDES, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he’s willing to spend an additional $50 million for improvements at the State Fairgrounds in Geddes.

The final decision will depend on recommendations of a new task force that Cuomo announced on Wednesday, along with legislative support.

“Yes, it’s a lot of money. Yes, it was a lot of money last year, but it’s an investment, and it’s an investment in upstate New York,” Cuomo said in remarks Wednesday at the State Fair.

The task-force recommendations will build on New York’s $50 million plan to revitalize the State Fairgrounds property. 

The committee will recommend improvements for phase two of the State Fair master plan and evaluate options to “maximize the state’s investment and grow the region’s economy,” Cuomo’s office said in a news release. 

Cuomo also used his appearance to appoint the committee, which has until the end of the year to complete its work.

“It’s going to be an intense sprint of service. We’re just starting November. I need the plan by the end of December because I want to put it in the [upcoming] State of the State address once again,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo wants the committee to address several topics in its final report.

“How do you increase the positive synergy between the Amphitheater and the State Fair? How do you take this Fair and make it more than a couple weeks a year, couple of months a year, a venue 365 days a year? How you make it the premier convention exhibition site where companies all across the country want to come here all year long?” Cuomo said in listing the various questions the group will examine.

The report could also address expanding parking, transporting visitors around the Fairgrounds faster, and figuring out the type of building the property will need to attract big shows.

Cuomo also used the event to announce that Fair goers gave the most recent State Fair “record” approval ratings “as a result of the state’s historic investment to transform the fairgrounds,” Cuomo’s office said in the release. 

The fair’s annual survey found that 87 percent of the 2016 State Fair attendees rated the changes to the Fairgrounds this year as “positive.” The fair also received “record-high ratings for its family-friendliness and affordability.”

The 2016 event generated the highest level of attendance in its 175-year history at more than 1,117,000 people, Cuomo’s office also noted.

Members of the State Fair task force include:

  • (co-chair) Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County Executive 
  • (co-chair) Richard Ball, commissioner, New York State (NYS) Department of Agriculture and Markets 
  • State Senator John DeFrancisco
  • State Senator Dave Valesky
  • State Senator Patti Ritchie
  • Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli 
  • Assemblywoman Pam Hunter 
  • Assemblyman Bill Magee 
  • Assembylman Al Stirpe 
  • RoAnn Destito, commissioner, NYS Office of General Services 
  • Matthew Driscoll, commissioner, NYS Department of Transportation
  • Rick Fedrizzi, president & CEO, International Well Building Institute 
  • Charlie Smith, Populous Group 
  • Eric Mower, chair and CEO, Eric Mower + Associates 
  • Christine Nycholas, CEO, Nicholas & Lence Communications 
  • John Trimble, president & CEO, C&S Engineers
  • Frank Zaitshik, owner, Wade Shows 
  • Brian Schuman, president, Fair Productions 
  • Eugene Cassidy, CEO, Big E
  • Richard Lee, CEO, CENTRO 
  • Rob O’Connor, event director, Syracuse Nationals car show

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