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Placer County is growing fast, but its fairgrounds were dated. Then came a $10M renovation

Stilt walkers Richard Dalton and Star Child of the Stilt Circus greet visitors during the unveiling of the newly renovated Placer County Fairgrounds.
Stilt walkers Richard Dalton and Star Child of the Stilt Circus greet visitors during the unveiling of the newly renovated Placer County Fairgrounds. rbenton@sacbee.com

Complete with a TV makeover-style reveal, Placer County officials on Tuesday unveiled a $10 million renovation of the once dated, homely-looking Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville.

With $2 million from Placer County and $8 million from the Placer Valley Tourism business improvement district, the rehab included a new digital marquee, new landscaping, repaving of walkways and major work to two of the center's buildings.

Johnson Hall went from drab tan to sharp orange, accented by the original teal tile columns. On the inside, a funky ceiling was removed to reveal large wooden beams.

"This facility is where the past meets the future," said Jim Holmes, who chairs the Placer County Board of Supervisors. Holmes told the three dozen officials on hand that the county had once considered bulldozing the facility.

Placer County Tourism assumed management of the fairgrounds in July.

Tourism board CEO David Attaway said there wasn't much investment in the site in a decade or so.

"The site had been challenged as a lot of the fairgrounds around the state had been," Attaway said. "What we found was a site with great bones but it didn't have a lot of newness to it."

Attaway said the site was being rebranded as "@ the Grounds" in hopes of reflecting the wide variety of events at the site. The facility at 800 All American City Boulevard features a raceway at the front of the property.

Other events held at the fairgrounds include trade shows, crab feeds, medieval armed combat, meetings and seasonal fairs.

Redevelopment plans include a 190,000-square-foot events center, large enough to 15 basketball courts or 30 volleyball courts. South Placer County boosters have long sought facilities that would allow the area to attract large sports tournaments and fill the region's 23 hotels.

"We did a feasibility study and there certainly is a demand for it," Attaway said.

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