The city of Costa Mesa has reached a tentative deal with the state to broker a purchase of the Orange County Fairgrounds for $96 million, according to KOCE-TV, Voice of OC’s broadcast partner.

Costa Mesa Planning Commission member James Righeimer confirmed the deal, which also involves the private company Facilities Management West, saying it will likely be finalized “in the next couple weeks.” The Costa Mesa City Council is set to vote on the proposed deal tonight.

Righeimer told KOCE that the proposed deal calls for Facilities Management West to finance the purchase of the 150-acre property over a term of between 40 and 55 years.

“Facilities Management West is on the hook,” not the city, if the payments aren’t made, Righeimer told KOCE. He added that all the Fairgrounds’ entities, including the annual fair, equestrian center, swap meet, and marketplace will remain.

It is far from clear at this point whether there are enough votes on the Costa Mesa City Council to approve the deal. Katrina Foley, one of two chief negotiators from the City Council and the most vocal supporter of a public purchase, told KOCE she has concerns but would not be specific regarding what those concerns are.

A deflated Foley said she is “not sure” how she’ll vote on the matter at tonight’s meeting, adding that she has no idea how other council members will vote. Foley said she’ll make her decision at the meeting tonight after hearing what the public has to say about the pending deal.

KOCE also spoke with Sandy Genis of the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society who said she and many citizens are angry that there has been a lack of transparency on both the parts of the city and state regarding this deal. Genis said she is concerned about the future of the Fairgrounds with business power brokers now being involved.

Check back for more updates on the proposed deal, and tune into KOCE’s Real Orange on Wednesday for a complete report.


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