Widgets Magazine
  • State Fairgrounds plans to begin charging for parking for all events

    The City of Oklahoma City has filed building permits to construct four entrance plazas at the State Fair Park to facilitate the collection of parking fees.

    The plazas will cost a total of $2.8 million to construct and once complete in late 2018, the fairgrounds will then start to collect parking fees for all events in what they call the 'premium parking' areas, which are effectively all the paved lots at the complex.

    To date, the fairgrounds has only charged for parking during the Oklahoma State Fair which runs for 11 days every September. However, State Fair Park hosts over 200 additional events throughout the year, including many trade shows, equestrian and livestock events and state high school basketball and wrestling championships. Under the new plan, attendees for all these events would be charged for parking within the entrance gates and on the paved lots.

    Oklahoma State Fair Inc. is the not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization which operates the fairgrounds on behalf of Oklahoma City, which owns the property and improvements. The upcoming change is the decision of that group.

    Spokesperson for Oklahoma State Fair Inc. Scott Munz told OKCTalk in a phone interview that they changes are necessary to better maintain control of vehicles in and out of the complex and to pay for increased security and patrol of the lots.

    Munz said other than the 190 acres controlled by the new plazas, the remainder of the 435 acres at the site will remain as free parking.

    Munz said that parking fees have yet to be established. During the state fair, the parking charge is $10.

    Munz was not able to provide estimates of revenues and expenses but said any profit must be spent at the fairgrounds as part of their non-profit status and arrangement with the city.

    In addition to operating the fairgrounds facilities, Oklahoma State Fair Inc. also operates the State Fair of Oklahoma and since it is not a government body, their financials and meetings are not open to the public.

    A good percentage of the paved parking within the complex was paid for through MAPS initiatives, as were improvements to Norick Arena and the new Expo Building which recently opened.

    As OKCTalk was first to report, Oklahoma State Fair Inc. has drawn plans to completely replace the 50 year-old Norick Arena with a new facility. Munz said they sought to be included in the recent General Obligation Bond that was voted on this past fall, but that the new facility did not make the final cut of projects. Munz said they will seek other funding sources in the future.

    The $2.8 million to pay for the entrance plazas will come from the city-wide 5.5% hotel tax. By law, the fairgrounds receives 6/11ths of those collections for improvements.

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