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State looking for private operator for NY State Fair

New York State government could be getting out of the fair business. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a privatization task force to look at the ways a private sector developer can help run the New York State Fair.

In a stop at the Geddes Fairgrounds Wednesday, Cuomo admitted that the state had apparently been trying to find a top-tier private sector company to run the state fair, but couldn’t find a taker.

"The old Midway, the way it was set up, there were a lot of issues. So we were not in a position to really attract a top tier private sector operator,” said Cuomo.

But the state is halfway into a $50 million state upgrade of the fair, which changes the dynamics of finding a private operator.

Credit Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tours construction redesign of fairgrounds that is underway with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney.

"I think we now have a facility that is very enticing that, has a lot of possibility and a lot of options, and we are going to do a request to see what kind of private sector operators might be interested in working with us, in a joint venture, or taking over the operation.”

Improvements at the fair include a new main gate, an expanded Midway with better layout and new infrastructure, and a new RV park.

Officials say these improvements will be finished by the Syracuse Nationals Car show in July and the state fair in August. More improvements are on tap for next year, including construction of a new multi-purpose exhibition center.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.