No takers on Del Mar fairgrounds craft-brewery proposal

Del Mar Fairgrounds officials were left holding an empty mug after beer makers passed on an invitation to operate a craft brewery in an under-used building on the fairgrounds property.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association, which oversees the state-owned fairgrounds, issued a request for proposals in September, seeking interest from local and national beer makers on a plan to build a craft brewery at the Surfside Race Place, a satellite wagering facility at the northeast corner of the fairgrounds.

However, at a board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 16, officials reported that no proposals had been received from interested beer makers and the bid to find an outside brewery partner has been ended.

Under the request for proposals, the district would have invested up to $1 million on the project, including the craft brewery, restaurant, tasting room and brewing museum. In return, companies were asked to commit to paying at least $1.5 million over five years to lease the facility.

Earlier this year, the district’s board of directors rejected a proposed partnership with Blue Moon Brewery, a subsidiary of beer giant MillerCoors, to operate a micro-brewery. At the time, some board members said the 22nd DAA had not done enough to solicit proposals, especially from locally-based breweries.

After Tuesday’s meeting, 22nd DAA board member Stephen Shewmaker, who spearheaded the craft brewery project, said Blue Moon ultimately decided to invest elsewhere.

bond sale and is active in structuring the bonds and reviewing all the legal and financing documents. This type of sale also gives flexibility in the sale date, allowing a “fall back” option if the conditions are not favorable on the sale day. The district had success issuing the first series of bonds via a negotiated sale in 2013.

The board seemed to lean toward the negotiated sale and gave the nod to the district staff to put out a request for proposals for underwriters.

At its January meeting, the board plans to look at the numbers of what a potential sale could look like and what estimated payback ratios would be.

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