After nearly four years of delays, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners is finally moving forward with a plan to relocate the Alachua County Fairgrounds to a new location.
A groundbreaking date has not been set, however, as the site plans still need to be presented to the board for modification and approval.
Gina Peebles, the assistant county manager for community and administrative services, developed the site plan that will be presented in October or November during board meetings.
“I’m gonna take that plan back to the board to get their approval to move on,” said Peebles, who is spearheading the relocation effort.
The current fairgrounds on Northeast 39th Avenue in Gainesville will be relocated to a section of land between North 63rd Avenue and North 69th Avenue, adjacent to Waldo Road. The new location will feature a more comprehensive storm-water system with more square footage, according to Gina Peebles.
The facility’s biggest additions will be a 31,500-square-foot arena and a 51,500-square-foot auditorium. These will be used for a variety of functions such as graduations, sporting events, concerts and possibly rodeos.
The motivation for moving the fairgrounds would be to utilize the current location for economic development instead, Alachua County spokesman Mark Sexton said.
Working in conjunction with the Tourist Development Council and Visit Gainesville, Peebles said the main focus at the new site will be trying to get out-of-town visitors to use the facilities — an issue that the current site does not address.
“Whenever you have folks coming from out of town, they’re going to spend money here,” Peebles said.
The Tourist Development Council will be funding a full-time employee who will market the new facilities to the public and visitors, said John Pricher, Visit Gainesville’s executive director.
“It is going to be necessary for someone to be constantly marketing and pushing out the availability of this building so that it can — and the fairgrounds as a whole — be utilized and continue to, hopefully, pay for itself or even possibly turn some money back into the county,” Pricher said.
With so few people actually using the current facilities, Peebles said the overall goal of attracting larger audiences remains the same.
“We’re just trying to get people to use the facilities,” she said.