March 4, 2019

Governor Cuomo Announces Record-Breaking Attendance at State Fairgrounds Events in 2018

Fairgrounds Logo Slider

Estimated Attendance at Non-Fair Events Soars Over 1 Million, Overall Attendance Numbers Grow to 2 Million for First Time

FY 2020 Executive Budget Proposes Additional $2.5 Million to Support Continued Improvements - Builds on Historic Investment to Revitalize Fairgrounds

Fairgrounds Investments Complement "CNY Rising" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that attendance at all privately-run events held on the New York State Fairgrounds in 2018 rose above 1 million for the first time ever. The attendance of 1,074,909 was an increase of 29.1 percent over 2017 and is more than double the attendance seen in 2016. Including the State Fair's record attendance of 1.27 million during its 13-day run, the total full-year attendance of 2,353,919 is 18 percent higher than in 2017 and 43 percent higher than in 2016. This growth coincides with the State's investment of more than $120 million since 2015 to modernize and revitalize the Syracuse-area Fairgrounds as part of the CNY Rising strategy to boost the entire Central New York economy.

"Through strategic investments to transform the Fairgrounds and the new Exposition Center, Central New York is attracting businesses, vendors and visitors like never before," Governor Cuomo said. "As we continue to shatter records and book events for the year-round space, we are bolstering the entire region's economy and helping to keep Central New York rising for generations to come."

"The New York State Fairgrounds continues to attract a record number of people for various attractions and events," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We're continuing to invest to expand and revitalize the Fairgrounds, including the new Exposition Center that opened last year. The Fairgrounds is helping to drive tourism in the area and growing the economy of the Central New York region and the entire State of New York."

The new Exposition Center opened in August for the 2018 Great New York State Fair. At 110,000 square feet of clear-span space, it is the largest major events facility north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland. During the Fair, it hosted a temporary ice hockey rink and the largest I Love New York tourism exhibit ever brought to the Fair. Since then, it has become the home of a new horse competition, a new consumer entertainment show, and an expanded RV show.

Among the brand new events coming to the Expo Center are the Winter Fair in February; the Indoor Auto Racing Series in March; and the IHSA National Horse Show in September. In addition, many other consumer and business-to-business trade shows are either moving to the Expo Center or expanding their shows to take advantage of the new space.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The investments that were made to revitalize the Fairgrounds and create the brand-new Expo Center are continuing to attract the attention of major events companies from across the nation. Thanks to the State Fair team and our partnerships, we are able to leverage the Fairgrounds as a way to grow the regional economy. We look forward to the continuation of great events and agriculture remaining a centerpiece at the State Fairgrounds in 2019."

State Fair Director Troy Waffner said, "We're proud to play a greater role in growing the economy of Central New York and we are excited about the future. We're hearing from promoters about events and shows that have never been able to come to the region before. The Fairgrounds and the Fair are on the rise and I know the best is yet to come."

County Executive J. Ryan McMahon, II said, “The New York State Fairgrounds are a major economic engine for Onondaga County. Thanks to the investments made in the infrastructure of the Fairgrounds, more people than ever are seeing what our community has to offer. With more improvements on the way, we are excited to see what 2019 brings.”

Since 2015, Governor Cuomo has invested $120 million in the Fairgrounds to revitalize a 375-acre facility that had not seen any significant investment by the state in the prior 80 years. The plan replaced an aging grandstand and race track that sat empty 50 weeks each year with a busy, full-service RV park, a large space for the Fair's Midway, and an attractive festival grounds. The Fair also gained an attractive Main Gate, upgrades for the New York State Police exhibit and the Iroquois Indian Village, as well as paving, lighting and drainage for its largest parking lot. The Governor has proposed adding $2.5 million to the Fair's annual allocation for capital projects to continue the revitalization of the Fairgrounds in the FY 2020 executive budget.

Accelerating CNY Rising

Today's announcement complements "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 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 Central NY 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.