December 29, 2011-- After taking over management of the fairgrounds in September 2011, the Boone County Commission has been in search of an answer to the need for long-term continued management and use of the grounds and facilities. A short-term solution came in the form of a three-month contract between Boone County and TAG Events LLC beginning October 1, 2011. During those three months, TAG Events LLC began cleanup and repair work throughout the buildings and grounds, and provided management services for the scheduled events. Obviously, a longer-term arrangement was necessary, so the County solicited proposals for a management contract using the regular request for proposal format it uses for all contracts. TAG Events LLC submitted a response. No other responses were received. TAG Events LLC and the County have now reached a mutually acceptable agreement which is considered by both as a test program that will run a maximum of two years, beginning January 1, 2012.
The two-year time frame of the contract will be used as a data-gathering period, during which TAG Events LLC and Boone County will establish a base of information which will allow for more informed decisions regarding the fairgrounds in the future. Boone County will provide financial support up to a maximum of $200,000 annually for operational costs, including but not limited to labor, fuel, cleaning, small repairs and insurance. The County will share in the cost of utilities up to a maximum annual expense of $75,000. The cost to Boone County will be reduced by a profit sharing agreement which provides that the county will receive 70 percent of the net profit from operations. If the amount paid to the county exceeds $275,000, the county will continue to receive 30 percent of the net profit with the balance retained by TAG Events LLC.
Additionally, Boone County will continue to support capital maintenance and improvements, such as roof repairs, renovations and development of permanent structures. Boone County will budget $100,000 in 2012 for this purpose and will oversee all related work. The money budgeted for capital projects may be offset or increased by grants, which will be sought from various sources.
TAG Events LLC is responsible for the development of operational and marketing plans. The operational manual will provide, in detail, what is required for the daily operation of the grounds and facilities. The marketing plan will be designed to promote and enhance the use of the fairgrounds for the benefit of the citizens of Boone County.
In addition to providing financial support, Boone County also intends to use this period to maximize the potential of the fairgrounds by collaborating with other entities. By working with the City of Columbia, Boone County hopes to further develop the grounds and facilities. The County is expecting to work with the University of Missouri to develop internships for students of the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business; the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, the County intends to seek input from other similar operations both inside and outside Missouri. The primary objective is to use the facilities in the best way for the benefit of the County and to set the course for the project to become self sufficient.
The 128 acres of the fairgrounds, the facilities and the infrastructure are an asset of Boone County. The County will seek to develop relationships with businesses and organizations in Boone County to encourage a sense of citizen ownership of the fairgrounds. The Commission invites and challenges all Boone County citizens to become active participants in developing, maintaining and using the grounds. Boone County citizen support is the backbone of this plan to revive and reinvent the Boone County Fairgrounds.