Fighting for the State Fair | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fighting for the State Fair

Posted By on Sun, Jun 20, 2010 at 6:59 AM

Slow day here, so I thought I'd mention things bubbling on the eternal push by the State Fair to move from its current Little Rock site in a poor neighborhood to different territory with ready freeway access.

The news last week was that North Little Rock, either directly through the city or related agencies and also through a North Little Rock legislator, had pledged to come up with 80 percent of the cost of feasibility study for relocating the fair. That underwriting certainly won't serve as a deterrent to a report favoring North Little Rock over Jacksonville and Benton competitors. (Yes, Little Rock would like to hang onto the fair, but inertia seems to be the best tactic mustered so far by Little Rock's vibrant city government to keep the fair on Roosevelt Road.)

NLR's underwriting of the study is interesting given this snippet from a Jacksonville news article on that city's effort to lure the fair.

[Jacksonville Mayor Gary] Fletcher said that the city has offered to cover the costs of the two studies “if they’d go ahead and select Jacksonville,” but the association did not accept.

Money from NLR, however, was OK. Watch NLR in this bid, a long-time Argenta observer tells me. Mayor Pat Hays will put his electric, street and sewer departments to work, at whatever cost, for infrastructure. He'll float bonds, pledge RV park revenue, create TIF districts, do whatever to package a bid for property near Galloway.

The stumbling block for his or any of the bids is not the land or infrastructure. It's the tens of millions necessary for new buildings. That means either a state dole (difficult politically if not impossible given economic circumstances) or a local sales tax. I don't think the mayor will be able to get the county to go along with a special countywide sales tax — a la the Verizon Arena — to build him THIS facility, however.

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