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Politics and Government

New fair expo center could attract larger shows to Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The new expo center at the fairgrounds.

A new $62 million Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds is on schedule to be completed and open in time for this year’s fair. The expo center could help the fair recruit larger shows to the region.

Acting fair Director Troy Waffner said he is talking to promoters on a national level about the new expo center.

“There’s one promoter in particular who needed at least 100,000 sq. ft. to set up his show so he’s never really come to the Syracuse market," Waffner said. "But we’re booking a show for him next year and he’s looking at multiple shows.”

Waffner said the 136,000 sq. ft. expo center will be a huge plus during the fair, with a temporary NHL size hockey rink for ice skating, something the fair has never done before. But Waffner said the expo center was also built to be used the other 50 weeks around the fair.

“We use up pretty much all the buildings that we rent out on a year-round basis almost every weekend," Waffner said. "This building is going to allow us to really expand that footprint. It’s going to hold from very large horse shows to very large trade shows and everything in-between.”

That includes a drone competition and fall festival later this year.

Waffner said the biggest complaint he hears about the expo center is that it is going to compete with the OnCenter and SRC Arena, which he said is not their intention.

“I always refer to the Oncenter as a beautiful, dainty facility and we’re a big dirty facility," Waffner said. "We have parking, we have big buildings, we can park big equipment in there. We can do anything we want out here because we have so much space.”

The expo center, I-690 west on-ramp and more paved parking in the Orange Lot mark the second phase in the state’s $120 million plan to revitalize the fairgrounds.