County, TAG Events reach agreement on management of fairgrounds

Thursday, December 29, 2011 | 5:40 p.m. CST; updated 6:19 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 29, 2011

COLUMBIA — The three-month contract between the Boone County Commission and TAG Events LLC to manage the Boone County Fairgrounds has been extended for two years.

The agreement, announced in a news release Thursday morning, states that the county will pay up to $275,000 to cover operational and utility costs next year, with an additional $100,000 allocated in the county budget for capital maintenance and improvement.

Until the county recoups $275,000 to offset its costs, the county will receive 70 percent of profits from the fairgrounds, and TAG will receive 30 percent. If and when that $275,000 cost is covered, the county will collect 30 percent of the profits and the rest will be paid to TAG.

"We believe we have an excellent opportunity here, with TAG Events, to move this operation into a self-sustaining mode over the next two years," Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said at the commission meeting Thursday afternoon.

Atwill said the two-year period will allow both the county and TAG to collect data about the economic impact of the fairgrounds, in conjunction with the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said the data-gathering process was an important component of the agreement, which has been lacking in years past in management of the fairgrounds.

"That's been the trouble all along, is that we didn't have accurate, up-to-date information," Elkin said.

Atwill said the county also plans to reach out to MU to recruit interns to work both in the manual labor and marketing efforts to improve the fairgrounds.

TAG has been working on several improvement projects on the site since it took over management of the fairgrounds on Oct. 1, but Elkin said the new plan will provide revenue needed for further improvements.

"Let's face it, it's been out there 20 years, and the key systems: the roofs, the doors, and things that get used on a daily basis are wore out," Elkin said. "These are things that are going to be taken care of."

The agreement will be read a second time at the next commission meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the chambers at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center.

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