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Grandstand implosion most visible sign yet of NY State Fair renovation

The implosion of the grandstand marked the official start of the State Fair renovation.

The implosion of the grandstand at the New York State Fairgrounds this weekend signals the start of big changes at the aging facility in the central New York. 

With a push of a button the grandstand was reduced to a pile of rubble. Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined local dignitaries for the event, which really starts the ball rolling for a $50 million plan to renovate the aging fairgrounds into an updated year-round facility. 

Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner says the remodeling schedule is quite aggressive.

"We take down the grandstand, we take down the track, we take down Gate 1. There’s some ancillary buildings that will be removed from the site. Then we have a contractor that will come in and do a lot of site work,” said Waffner.

At the same time the new infrastructure is installed, there will also be other improvements at the fair. For example a new main gate, a new Midway and a new RV park. Work pauses for the 2016 ediiton of the fair. After that, construction of the new State of the Art Expo Center and Equine center begins, with the whole project planned to be wrapped up by the 2017  fair. That’s two years after Cuomo announced specific plans for the new look fairgrounds.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Joanie Mahoney and Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball at the New York State Fair Friday.

And Waffner says even though the grandstand was reduced to pile of rubble, it won’t be forgotten, because parts of the 43-year-old grandstand were saved.

"Our plan is over the next couple years is to build a really nice display in the history of the fair museum. Not of the grandstand, because that’s important, but just as importantly, the track with the history of car racing and horse racing and monster truck racing at the track. We’re going to repurpose some of the seats as well as just capture the history of it,” said Waffner.

There hasn’t been a major investment in the property in decades. The project goes hand in hand with the recent construction of an amphitheater on the western shore of Onondaga Lake, and investments in the village of Solvay.

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.