Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the achievement of a milestone in the construction of the new Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds as the final piece of structural steel to be installed was placed in the roof of the building. When the Expo Center opens for the 2018 Great New York State Fair, the 136,000-square-foot structure will be the largest indoor events space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland. This new facility, along with the ongoing renovation of the Fair's Orange parking lot, marks the second phase of the Governor's $120 million plan to revitalize the State Fair and Fairgrounds and complements Central NY Rising, the region's strategy to grow the local economy.
"This marks a significant milestone in the construction of the Fairgrounds' Expo Center, an investment that will deliver real economic benefits to the people of Central New York," Governor Cuomo said. "Upon completion, this project will not only help to boost State Fair attendance to record numbers, but will also enhance all that the region has to offer with a year-round event space that will attract visitors and businesses from across the nation."
"The State Fair is a national attraction for family entertainment and events, boosting the economy and tourism in the region," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The improvements and addition of the Expo Center will further enhance the site and continue the momentum of helping Central New York rise."
The Expo Center, with 110,000 square feet of clear-span event space, will have the capacity to hold more than 500 10'-by-10' trade show booths and 4,000 retractable seats. This flexible event space will attract major shows and special events, including car, boat, and RV shows, pet expos, consumer and trade shows, home and garden shows, tech expos and other events that were previously unable to come to upstate New York due to lack of suitable space. The building will join the Fairgrounds' existing portfolio of event space, such as the Toyota Coliseum and the Center of Progress Building, increasing the amount of available indoor space on the grounds to more than 450,000 square feet. Construction of the facility is expected to create more than 700 jobs.
Since the beginning of renovations, State Fair attendance has grown by more than 28 percent and non-Fair event estimated attendance has grown 57 percent from 2016 to 2017. Under the first phase of Governor Cuomo's revitalization plan, the Fairgrounds were transformed to include 63 acres of newly opened space to accommodate a full-service RV park for 313 campers, a reconfigured and larger Midway area that serves as on-site parking or event space outside of the Fair, and open space for Fair programming, non-Fair events, and for construction of the Exposition Center. A new Main Gate entrance was also built, along with a new exhibit area for the New York State Police and the Sky Ride, a 1,400-foot long chairlift ride. The Indian Village also received renovations for its Turtle Mound, the home of cultural performances during the Fair.
During the 2018 State Fair, the Expo Center will be transformed to showcase New York's bounty of outdoor attractions with a temporary ice rink as a centerpiece that will feature hockey, figure skating, broomball and other special events. When not in use for events, the rink will be open for free public skating. Skates will be available free of charge as well. Activities related to Winter Olympics events are also being planned, tied to New York State's legacy as the home of a major Olympic training facility in Lake Placid, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic games. Specific events will be announced in the near future.
The I LOVE NEW YORK exhibit that debuted last year in the Center of Progress Building will move to the new building and expand to highlight more of the state's natural wonders. This will be joined by interactive exhibits from other state agencies involved in outdoor recreation and tourism. The Fair's annual Sand Sculpture exhibit will move to the Expo Center as well, with a New York tourism-themed creation being sculpted live for fairgoers during the early days of the Fair.
After the Fair, the Expo Center will host several events in 2018 that are new to upstate including:
The state is working to finalize a contract with a private firm that will market the Expo Center to potential clients. The company was chosen as the result of a Request for Proposals that outlined the specific expectations for the volume of events to be brought to the Expo Center and other Fairgrounds buildings. The Expo Center is expected to host major programming throughout the upcoming year.
Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney said, "Central New York is experiencing real economic progress thanks to Governor Cuomo's commitment and investment in our region. The new Exposition Center will bring even more visitors to our area, fulfilling our shared vision of an economy strengthened by tourism. Our area's world-class shopping and excellent attractions, with the developments along Onondaga Lake as its centerpiece, are helping us to build a prosperous future."
New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball said, "It is awesome to see the Expo Center taking shape. The new facility is truly the centerpiece of the Governor's plans for a reinvigorated Fairgrounds, providing us new and unique opportunities to market the region and bring a boost to the local economy. I look forward to seeing the completion of this events space and taking in all the new exhibits and activities once the doors open."
Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "This milestone marks another important step in Governor Cuomo's vision to reimagine the New York State Fair. As a result of the ability to use design-build on the Expo Center, which has saved time and money, the OGS team will be able to bring an entirely new dimension to the grounds and expand its capabilities by opening day this year. "
Acting State Fair Director Troy Waffner said, "The Fair and Fairgrounds have truly been revitalized by the Governor's investments. Our year-round operation has risen significant since the beginning of the renovations here and we are now poised for explosive growth. It's an exciting time and we plan to take full advantage of it in order to create greater economic benefits for the people of the region."
Today's announcement complements "CNY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.7 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating CNY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.