With ‘find’ in Minnesota, grandstand a go for next fair

Mike Bennett, Sanepte County Fair Board chairman, told the county commission last week that aging  fairgrounds bleachers, seen in this aerial photograph, could be replaced by seating from a deconstructed, out-of-state NASCAR track.
Mike Bennett, Sanpete County Fair Board chairman, told the county commission last week that aging fairgrounds bleachers, seen in this aerial photograph, could be replaced by seating from a deconstructed, out-of-state NASCAR track.
Fairboard plans to use seats from NASCAR track to cut costs, start work with current funds

James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI—The Sanpete County Fair Board has been able to find a “goldmine” in Minnesota  to replace the old grandstand that has been declared unsafe, Mike Bennett, Fair Board chairman, told the Sanpete County Commission last week.

That means the Fair Board, rather than being short of funds to get a new grandstand in place for the next Sanpete County Fair, can build a bigger structure than originally planned with money it has in hand, Bennett told the commissioners at a meeting last Tuesday, March 7.

At a meeting in late February, Bennett asked for a commitment from the county commission to cover a $300,000 shortfall in the $1.8 million budget for the grandstand and ancillary features, including restrooms, a concession stand, and barns and stables.

In response, Commission Chairwoman Claudia Jarrett told Bennett he would get an answer from the commission at the first meeting in March. Meanwhile, she asked him to redouble his efforts to find additional grants and donations.

At the meeting last week where the Fair Board was supposed to get the commission’s answer, Bennett reported he had secured another $8,000 from the Moroni and Fountain Green city councils. But his big news was the alternative source of grandstand seating.

Bennett reported he and other Fair Board members had searched the Internet looking for ways to save money on grandstand construction. They happened upon a company in Minnesota that had recently de-constructed two NASCAR race tracks, one in Richmond, Virginia and another in Jackson, Minnesota.

He said the Minnesota company had given the Fair Board a bid under which it would  deliver enough seating for a 3,750-seat grandstand rather than the 2,500 seats originally planned for $400,000.

Bennett said the Fair Board planned to buy some other materials from the company, including freestanding bleachers with backrests that would be positioned around the sides and back of the new rodeo arena. The bleachers would seat another 8,000-10,000 spectators. And, Bennett said, all of the seating would be ADA compliant. Meanwhile, the board also hoped to buy some lighting from the Minnesota company.

The original estimate for the grandstand only had been $895,000. But Bennett said with the salvaged seating, the Fair Board would be able to build the grandstand, put a cover over it, add bleachers around the sides and back of the arena, and install lighting for $850,000. The arena would also need to be fenced, but the county has agreed to do that work as an in-kind contribution.

Bennett added that the company in Minnesota had promised that all connecting material would be included with the stands, and that an representative of the company would accompany the material to Manti to assure that the proper procedures are followed in assembling the seating. The stands are 12 years old, he said, so are not highly worn.

Bennett did caution that arena construction would not include restrooms, concessions, or new barn and stable buildings, as originally recommended in a fairgrounds master plan. The original budget for the whole, comprehensive project, remains at $1.8 million, he said.

However, Bennett said the board had hired a grant writer, who had assured the board she could write grant proposals in three months that could complete funding for the broader project.

Most of the funds for fairgrounds redevelopment will come from a $895,000 grant from the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB). The Fair Board also has raised more than $200,000 in private donations.

Bennett said the board had $240,000 cash on hand and that money available from the CIB grant would bring the bank account to $871,000. That would be enough to start construction, he said, so the grandstand and new arena could be in place in time for the fair this summer.

Jarrett voiced her appreciation for the board’s efforts in looking for an option outside the box that would end up giving the county a better product.

“We very much appreciate this,” she said.