Tens of thousands fill the fairgrounds on the weekend. Photo by Chris Stone

Having asked the state earlier this month for $20 million of emergency funding to help stay afloat through the coronavirus crisis, administrators of the Del Mar Fairgrounds are now asking the public to reach out to lawmakers in Sacramento with their support for the aid.

In an email Wednesday, fairgrounds General Manager Tim Fennell said the facility desperately needs the money and is potentially facing closure because its revenue from events that have now been postponed or cancelled,  like the annual San Diego County Fair, has all but evaporated.

“From creating cherished family memories and generating $680 million in economic impact, to serving as an essential evacuation site during wildfires and providing nearly 4,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, losing the fairgrounds would leave a giant void in San Diego as we know it,” Fennell said in the message. “Please contact your elected officials today to let them know this can’t happen.”

Though California owns the fairgrounds, it operates from its own revenue. It gets more than half its income – on average about $12 million – from hosting the San Diego County Fair, which was scheduled to take place from June 5 to July 5 this year.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association, which runs the fairgrounds, is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to allocate the emergency funding from the economic aid package approved by Congress in March.

A Save the Fairgrounds web site has been launched to inform supporters how they can help.

“Without the requested $20 million in relief aid from the State of California to get us back on our feet, the fairgrounds will potentially have to close its doors,” Fannell wrote.

— Staff report

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