A committee looking at options for a long-term lease of the Central Missouri Events Center wants the Boone County Fair to get to use the property free of charge.
The Boone County Commission heard the recommendation Thursday — the culmination of a request for proposals to operate the venue that was issued earlier this year. The committee recommended the commission renew a lease of the property with Veterans United Home Loans and UPS.
Three businesses answered the county commission’s call for proposals to manage the property this year, including Veterans United and UPS, each of which previously had contracts with the county to use part of the events center property.
Boone County Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry said the county hoped to receive a proposal that would offer public use of the old fairgrounds. The recommendation from the committee includes a stipulation that the Boone County Fair get to use the events center for free.
The county has been exploring uses of the events center, formerly the Boone County Fairground, for the past several years after voters rejected a tax measure to pay for its operation and upkeep. The county shuttered the fairgrounds after that vote and the Boone County Fair moved to Sturgeon in 2016.
Boone County purchased the property back in 1999.
“The county simply does not have the resources necessary to fully develop that fairgrounds property and turn it into something that would be of benefit to the greater community,” Parry said.
Parry said Veterans United has made improvements to the property over the years.
Under the old Veterans United contract, the Boone County Fair would have had to pay $10,000 for the space. In the current proposal, the fair could use the space free of charge, with a $10,000 deposit,
“Veterans United again, being a great cooperate citizen, would like to see the Boone County Fair come back to Columbia,” Parry said.
A second reading of the proposal is on the commission’s agenda for next Thursday.