Del Mar Fairgrounds approves operating budget for 2023

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union Tribune)

The Del Mar Fairgrounds Board of Directors approved its 2023 operating budget during a Jan. 10 meeting.

Michael Sadegh, director of finance at the fairgrounds, said some of the outside factors that fairgrounds officials will monitor are inflation and the risk of a recession.

The budget includes approximately $55.9 million in operating expenses, excluding personnel, which includes $32 million for the San Diego County Fair. Employee pay and benefits are an additional $18.4 million.

Operating revenue projections are approximately $76.6 million, including $49 million from the fair.

There will be 22 days of the annual county fair this year between opening day on June 7 and the finale on the Fourth of July.

“After a two-year absence due to the pandemic, we were thrilled to bring back a full-scale fair to our community this past summer,” Carlene Moore, Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO, said in a statement last summer when they announced the “Get Out There” theme for the 2023 fair. “We’re looking forward to next year and creating a fun, memorable experience the whole family can take part in together and we hope to help inspire guests to ‘get out there’ and explore some of the natural beauty around us both near and far.”

More than 970,000 people attended the fair last year.

Del Mar Horsepark is also expected to be back in operation at the beginning of July. The venue closed suddenly because of wastewater issues, but a new lessee is bringing the park back into compliance.

The budget projections at the fairgrounds also include 50 shows at The Sound, a new 1,900-capacity concert venue at the fairgrounds. Reggae star Ziggy Marley will play the venue’s first event on Feb. 3.

Fair board members also approved $5.4 million in capital expenditures, including facilities and equipment. Facilities projects include Surfside Center stairwell enhancement and roof replacement at Bing Crosby Hall.

Board member Richard Valdez, one of the board’s Finance Committee members, said the process for developing the budget began late last year, around the start of December.

“We actually sent staff back and asked for some revisions to be made to find some additional revenue and hopefully cut additional expenses, which they did,” Valdez said.