Surprise for Van Robinson at Exposition Center Opening Ceremony
27 Million Spent on Orange Lot Upgrades
Opening day of the 2018 Fair officially marked the unveiling of the brand-new Exposition Center at the New York State Fairgrounds with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 136,000-square-foot Expo Center, the largest indoor events space north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland, was unveiled during the kick-off of the 2018 Great New York State Fair.
The building is massive compared to others, with sweeping roof-lines visible above the colorful illuminated lights of the carnival rides assembled around the structure. Once the 2018 fair is over, The Exposition Center will stand out as another gem on the 375 acre site which has undergone an extensive transformation. The extreme makeover was funded by New York’s 500 million dollar investment in Upstate New York. In addition to the new center on the fairgrounds, 27 million was invested in the newly renovated Orange Lot.
“The new Exposition Center is a welcome addition to the Fairgrounds that will not only help bolster State Fair attendance, but provide an event space capable of hosting a record number of visitors year-round,” Governor Cuomo said. “By boosting tourism and attracting businesses from across the country, the uniquely situated Expo Center will deliver lasting economic benefits to keep Central New York rising for generations to come.”
“The new Expo Center continues the revitalization of the fairgrounds, improving the fair experience and attracting more visitors to our Great New York State Fair,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Expo Center’s opening today creates a new space to host events and shows capable of holding a record number of people. The new center will continue to build local communities and grow the economy of Central New York.”
Surprise for Syracuse’s Van Robinson
The opening ceremony of the center was marked by a surprise announcement regarding Pan-African Village. The Governors’ Office prepared a special sign which was revealed at the event, a pleasant surprise to Van & Linda Brown-Robinson and the audience. The PAV will now be called, “The Van Robinson Pan-African Village”. A small crowd gathered at the newly named attraction for a ceremony immediately after the Exposition Center event.
450,000 Square Feet of Indoor Space Now Available at Fairgrounds
The Expo Center, with 110,000 square feet of clear-span floor space, has the capacity to hold more than 500, 10′-by-10′ trade show booths. The massive venue, which also features 4,000 retractable seats, will attract major shows and special events, including car, boat, and RV shows, pet expos, consumer and trade shows, home and garden shows, tech expos and more—many of which were previously unable to come to upstate New York due to the lack of suitable space. The Expo Center increases the amount of available indoor space on the Fairgrounds to more than 450,000 square feet.
Last year at the opening of the 2017 Fair, Governor Cuomo announced the Request for Proposals for the Expo Center design-build project was being issued by the Office of General Services. As a result of special legislation for design-build granted in the Governor’s 2017-2018 Budget, the project was designed, constructed, and completed in less than one year – in time for the 2018 Fair – by a number of New York State firms including design/builder HBP Joint Venture, a joint venture between Hueber-Breuer Construction (Syracuse) and The Pike Company (Rochester); architect and engineer QPK Design (Syracuse); and owner’s representatives Gilbane Building Company and C&S Companies (Syracuse).
$27 Million Spent for Orange Lot Redesign and Modernization
The Governor also announced that the New York State Department of Transportation has completed a $27 million redesign and modernization of the Orange Lot, the Great New York State Fair’s largest parking lot. Improvements to the 65-acre lot to improve access, enhance safety and significantly expand capacity, began last fall. More than 7,000 parking spaces are available in the freshly paved lot, up from the 4,000 to 5,000 that were available last year on a dirt surface. Access improvements will reduce delays from traffic backing up onto the Exit 7 ramps to Interstate 690, easing congestion during peak travel times.
In early August, NYSDOT opened a new exit ramp to Interstate 690 west from the western end of the Orange Lot, allowing direct access to I-690 from the State Fair and Onondaga County amphitheater. The new ramp will improve the flow and circulation of traffic exiting the Orange Lot, and help reduce delays for vehicles leaving the lot. Prior to the opening of this ramp, vehicles could only exit the Orange Lot from the Exit 7 area of I-690 during events scheduled outside of the Fair. The new ramp provides an additional exit point for vehicles to access I-690 in the westbound direction during all events.
An EZ-Pass Plus tolling system and cash lanes are also new to the Orange and Brown Lots this year. In addition, new LED lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian refuge areas were added to make it even easier to walk to and from the Fair. Three new bus stops with bus shelters were also installed, along with signage and an extensive drainage system for the entire lot.
The improvements mark the completion of Phase 2 of Governor Cuomo’s revitalization plan. Phase 1 of the transformation plan included a full-service RV park for 313 campers and a larger, relocated Midway area that allows for more open space for Fair programming and non-Fair events. A new Main Gate entrance was also built, along with a new exhibit area for the New York State Police, and the Sky Ride, a 1,400-foot long chairlift ride. The Indian Village also received renovations to its Turtle Mound, the home of cultural performances during the Fair.
Since the beginning of renovations, State Fair attendance has grown by more than 28 percent and non-Fair event estimated attendance has grown 57 percent from 2016 to 2017.
During the 2018 State Fair, the Expo Center will showcase New York’s bounty of outdoor attractions with a temporary ice rink as a centerpiece to host hockey, figure skating, broomball and other special events. When not in use for events, the rink will be open for free public skating. Skates will be available free of charge as well. Activities related to the Winter Olympics will be featured to highlight New York State’s legacy as the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic games, as well as a major Olympic training facility in Lake Placid.
The I LOVE NEW YORK exhibit that debuted last year in the Center of Progress Building has moved to the new Expo Center to highlight more of the state’s natural wonders. The theme of this year’s I LOVE NEW YORK experience is “All Year. All Here.” Fairgoers can experience New York State’s four seasons and capture photos in various selfie stations. Visitors can ride a luge; test their golf swing; tour a canal boat; navigate through a corn maze; see classic, dirt and race cars; and sample Taste NY beer, wine, spirits and products. Free snacks will be provided at 3:00 p.m. every day, courtesy of JetBlue. New York State’s annual tourism-themed sand sculpture will be sculpted live for fairgoers in the Expo Center as well.
New Non-Fair Events
The Expo Center is expected to host major programming throughout the upcoming year.
After the Fair, the Expo Center will host several events in 2018 that are new to upstate including:
- The Taste NY Fall Festival, October 12-13: This event will feature vendors from across New York State, who will sell locally produced and manufactured food and beverages, highlighting local and regional cuisines and showcasing the diversity of the state. The family-friendly festival will feature pumpkin patches and pumpkin carving, amusement rides and farm petting zoos so children can see how food is raised, grown and produced.
- The HITS Indoor Championships, October 24-28: This new event is a competition for Junior and Amateur horse riders at the beginning and intermediate levels in order to continue to develop the sport at the grass roots level.
- The FlyFast Drone Racing Competition and Showcase, November 10-11: This event is a set of racing competitions for amateurs and professionals. A variety of courses will be offered for the competitors to fly through as well as courses for testing the intricate skills of pilots. The Showcase will include drone flying lessons for first time pilots and workshops and clinics for developing drone operators and racers. It will also include a marketplace for attendees to shop for the latest drone technology. The event highlights the Governor’s investment in unmanned aerial vehicle technology, as the area between Syracuse and Rome has been designated one of only a handful of drone testing corridors in the nation.
According to Empire State Development, “The Great New York State Fair always provides a late summer boost to local businesses, with hundreds of thousands of people coming to town. The new Expo Center will attract visitors to the fairgrounds and region year-round, generating more economic activity in the Syracuse area and across Central New York.”
New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball said, “The Great New York State Fair has marked a new milestone with the opening of the new Expo Center. This new space is the centerpiece of the Governor’s plans for a reinvigorated Fairgrounds and it provides us with new and unique opportunities to promote agriculture, market Central New York and boost the region’s economy.”
Acting State Fair Director Troy Waffner added, “The Fair and Fairgrounds have been revitalized thanks to the Governor’s vision and investments. Our year-round operation has grown sharply since renovations began and this expansion positions us well for explosive growth.”
“Onondaga County is proud to host the New York State Fair every year and we are thrilled to once again welcome visitors from across the state, country, and world to see all that Central New York has to offer. This year, the Fair is better than ever with the addition of the brand new, state-of-the-art Expo Center that will provide year-round entertainment opportunities and drive more people to the region than ever before. I thank Governor Cuomo for taking the Fair to new heights and for driving our local economy through these targeted investments.” According to Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney