Could the State Fair return to Carson? Tourism officials consider a plan

Can the Carson region put a new events center to good use?

The Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, along with the Carson Valley Visitors Authority, are taking a preliminary look at the prospects for a two-county events center along the lines of the Reno Livestock Center.

"Would it be as big as Reno's? Probably not. We don't know. But it would be along that line," said Suzanne Rosevold, executive director of the authority.

"A feasibility study would look at what kinds of national events it might be used for and what do we need it to include for them to come here.

"We can't afford a new events center by ourselves. Wouldn't it be great if we could do it together?" she added, alluding to the similar tourism issues faced by both Carson Valley and Carson City.

On Aug. 12, the Carson City visitors' bureau board of directors discussed matching the $5,000 proposed by the authority for a feasibility study. That board decided more information was needed, including whether $10,000 would be enough for such a study.

"We didn't want it to be one of those things that everyone thinks is great, but then, how are you going to fund it?" said Candace Duncan, director for the bureau.

"One of our main concerns right now is we're highly focused on the V&T (railroad) construction. The board is concerned about diluting that effort," she said.

"But we don't want to be so narrowly focused that we miss other opportunities."

Duncan and Rosevold have begun preliminary research to determine if a feasibility study is worth the expense and to determine just what questions the study needs to answer. So far, there's been no discussion of where it might be located.

"We know that an events center or a convention center never pays for itself; we have to be aware of that going in," Duncan said. "They may generate a lot of business for the community, but they need to be subsidized.

"And, we know most of those that are needed are already built."

A new, joint-county events center is not intended as a replacement for the existing fairgrounds in each county.

Organizations such as the 4-H clubs that currently use the smaller fairgrounds would probably continue to be better served by them. A large events center would likely be beyond their budgets.

Yet the possible uses for an events center in the area are promising enough for a closer look and could address tourism issues faced by both counties.

Rosevold and Duncan have already been meeting to look for collaborative solutions to solve tourism problems faced by both Douglas and Carson City counties. Those include the slow "shoulder" seasons of fall and spring, and how to encourage visitors to stay longer.

"We keep saying, 'that would be a great event for (an events center),'" Rosevold said, of the ideas they have generated.

Those events include moving the Nevada State Fair, being held this week at the Reno Livestock Center, back to the capital city arena.

A new events center could also be used for the HITS horse show, other equestrian events, a large rodeo, and big-truck pulls.

"We know it would be land-use intensive," Rosevold said, noting the amount of parking area needed in addition to events space. "How would we buy it and how would it look, we don't know yet."

Around October or November, Rosevold and Duncan expect a meeting of both their boards of directors to consider the feasibility study proposal.

At that time they could really start the ball rolling, or stop it.


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