LITTLE ROCK Ark.; (KTHV) -- Money, land, and road work ultimately are keeping the fair in the capital city. Both North Little Rock and Jacksonville offered up sizable property, but to avoid debt, the fair is sticking around a little longer in Little Rock.
The State Fair board decides on a location. They are staying in Little Rock, despite lucrative offers from Jacksonville and North Little Rock.
General Manager, Ralph Shoptaw says "Jacksonville was really the lead, you know they offered us some land on 440 and that was really enticing."But in the end, Shoptaw says it looks like now with the funding and financing the fair will stay in Little Rock and work on what needs to be renovated.
Mayor Mark Stodola is offering up 3 million dollars over 10 years, that's about 300 thousand dollars a year for renovations. General Manager Ralph Shoptaw says improvements aren't their only need, they need space.
The city will help acquire about 100 more acres, merging two sets of railroad tracks to free up land, adding a pedestrian bridge over them and purchase a nearby empty industrial site.More space gives Shoptaw room to explore new ideas.
Shoptaw says, "We could use the East side and have another nice entrance to the fair and we would have room for outdoor commercial space and concessions and it would give the East side including the coliseum a whole new look.
Another big change the city is looking into is adding access off I -30 to the fairgrounds.
Ralph Shoptaw says "it gets tough with traffic and this would give folks a better option to come in and not have to drive down Roosevelt, it's pretty narrow.
The addition to 1-30 could take up to 10 years to complete, but construction is set to start on the pedestrian bridge as soon as this year's fair concludes.The 300 thousand dollars set to go to the fair each year for ten years will come out of the recent tax increase.