Del Mar council cautiously supports ‘Barn at the Beach’ plan

A proposal to erect a tent for off-site events in Powerhouse Park during next fall’s Breeders’ Cup horse racing event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds drew support from the City Council at a meeting on Monday, Dec. 19, but members want more details before giving final approval to the plan.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which is hosting the prestigious two-day horse racing event for the first time in November 2017, applied for permits to put up a 16,500-square-foot tent – dubbed “The Barn at the Beach” – for about two weeks, and host events for as many as 1,000 people at a time. Some of the events will be private but most will be public, said Craig Dado, a marketing executive with the club.

Events would be held over a seven-day period, with the additional days needed for set-up and tear-down, officials said.

Dado said the tent would fulfill two purposes: Bringing business to Del Mar merchants around the horse racing event, and convincing visitors that future Breeders’ Cups should come back to the seaside venue.

“The Breeders’ Cup is really the Olympics of horse racing. This is considered the biggest day of racing in the world, we absolutely thrilled to be hosting it,” Dado said.

By hosting events at the oceanview perch of Powerhouse Park, he said, “We think this will wow our out-of-town visitors,” Dado said.

Council members said they want to support the Breeders’ Cup and involve Del Mar in the activities, but were concerned that details about the event, such as parking, the specific nature of the events, noise, lighting, sanitation and security, public benefits and park restoration, aren’t yet available.

Although they voted 5-0 to give conceptual approval to the plan, they reserved the right to reject the proposal if the specific event details don’t pass muster.

They asked for more details to be brought forward as soon as possible. Dado said his organization will comply, because the club will need to know if it can use the Powerhouse Park venue, its first choice, or have to look for other locations to stage its events.