KINGMAN - Due in part to a new Kingman ordinance, the Mohave County Fairgrounds could be moving in the near future. The Board of Supervisors was originally going to discuss new guidelines for the Fair Association Monday, but the discussion rapidly turned to the new law, whether the current facilities had reached maximum potential, and if it would be better to move to a new location.
Brian Devincenzi, president of Route 66 Wings and Wheels, has held numerous events at the fairgrounds since 2009. However, the City Council recently enacted a sound ordinance and the Fairgrounds Association won't allow the group to move the rodeo arena.
Board Chairman Buster Johnson asked if the city had also prohibited the use of top fuel cars.
"It was a minimal number of residents who stood up to complain at a City Council meeting," Devincenzi said. "I don't think they understand what they've passed."
Top fuel cars are what people come to see, he said. Not being able to show them at the fairgrounds severely limits the organization as to what events they can put on.
He agreed that top fuel cars can be loud, but there are plenty of other racing cars that don't use top fuel systems that are even louder, he said.
County Manager Ron Walker asked if Route 66 Wings and Wheels would be willing to partner with the county to help develop a new fairgrounds if the land included a suitable place to hold races.
"Absolutely," Devincenzi said.
The county's reached the maximum limit of returns on the current fairgrounds facilities, Walker said.
Mohave County Economic Development Director Travis Lingenfelter agreed. He said use of the property was severelylimited after the horse races were canceled and the city's noise ordinance was enacted.
Most communities are moving away from horse racing and moving toward motorsports events, such as events put on by Wings and Wheels, he said. The department did an economic survey of fairgrounds users and found that the shortage and style of grandstand seating, along with the immovable rodeo arena, limits the flexibility of the grounds.
Many organizations contacted for the survey said they would be willing to partner with the county on finding a new facility, Lingenfelter said.
Johnson asked if the department had a dollar figure as to what the property was worth to the county. Lingenfelter said they had asked a real estate agent to look at the property, but he was reluctant to give a figure because of the current land market.
Walker said that the county gets little benefit from the property. The city gets the most benefit from a cut of the sales tax from events.
Johnson pointed out that the county could get out of its current contract with the Fair Association by selling the property.
Walker said that was a possibility if the county could get a reasonable price for the land.
"We have to decide if we want to look at other sites," Johnson said.
County Fairgrounds Associations Board Member Gerald Olsen said 60 events where held at the fairgrounds last year. He pointed out that the Economic Department did not talk to the Fair Association Board about the survey.
Olsen asked who would run the new fairgrounds if the county decided to move them. He reminded the Board that the association took over operation of the fairgrounds around 25 years ago after the county had threatened to close the grounds.
"The association was formed to keep it open and running," Olsen said. "It does have value to the citizens."
Lingenfelter said the department spoke with Fairgrounds Manager Errol Pherigo and that information was included in the survey.
Walker suggested that the Board have staff look into what other counties have done with their fairgrounds and what kind of returns they were getting on their investments and get an estimate on what it would cost the county to move the grounds. He suggested bringing the issue back before the Board in March to give staff time to collect the information.
The Board unanimously voted to continue the item to March.