Well, here it is Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln County – your new Lincoln County Expo and Fairgrounds as assembled by one of the leading project feasibility firms in the country – EcoNorthwest. They took on the job of estimating how much it would cost to build it and what income is needed to at least break even. $12 million to build it, and more than that to borrow the money to do it.
In short, the prospects are not good that it would even remotely be self-sufficient – according to EcoNorthwest. But the consultants do point out that such facilities seldom break-even – that communities find the biggest value contained in the spin-off benefits for quality of life throughout the area. Also, hotels, motels, vacation rentals, restaurants, tourism amusement businesses, all would benefit from the new county Expo and Fairgrounds. The county and cities together could enjoy higher tourist room tax revenues as part of an estimated overall economic benefit to the region of between $650,000 to $2.7 million a year.
Now, the arithmetic relies in no small way on the zeal of the staff of the Expo and Fairgrounds. They’d have to race around like scalded cats to recruit rodeos and upper-crust steeplechases, other horse shows, antique and classic car shows, boat shows, gun and sportsman shows, home and garden and R/V shows, big crafts and wedding expos, major conferences – everything to cover what could be well over a half million dollars a year of red ink on the facility – $1.3 million a year (bond payments + operating costs) minus whatever income materializes during the year from Newport Seafood and Wine, the Lincoln County Fair, the annual Celtic Festival and Highland Games and a few others. Staff would also be expected to approach regional grant agencies and private foundations like Ford Family, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Collins Foundation as well as other partnerships that might work – such as Newport Urban Renewal, Newport and other chambers of commerce, etc.
EcoNorthwest offered-up a few ideas about how to bring down operation and maintenance costs like contracting with local high schools and/or our local fire departments who might take on the job looking for a little extra income. Speaking beyond the EcoNorthwest report, who knows – the courts might even assign some of that work as part of a “community service” sentence. But to be sure, operations and maintenance are but a small part of meeting the annual cost of a new Expo and Fairgrounds.
It’s a big project requiring an equally big commitment from all county residents. With such a weighty subject we can expect the Lincoln County Commissioners to call for more public discussions and most likely a county-wide vote on it in the near future.
The full EcoNorthwest report on the Expo Fairgrounds report can be found by simply clicking here and then click on the 70 page report.