The Umatilla County Fair has a new deal to rent space from the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center for $100,000.
Housing the fair was central to the design of the 75-acre EOTEC, complete with more than 80,000 square feet of barn space and a 25,500-square-foot exhibition and event hall. The entire project, including a rodeo arena, cost $16 million to build.
The fair takes place during the second full week in August, and more than 80,000 attend. The fair gets full use of EOTEC for six weeks — from three weeks before fair week and for two weeks after.
Umatilla County commissioners have said the $100,000 price tag is a more than fair rate when you look at what other venues offer. That same amount, for example, would pay for almost eight weeks at the Pendleton Convention Center, which provides 40,000 square feet of space but has no barns.
The East Oregonian called other large venues within a 60-mile radius and asked far would $100,000 go. This is no apples-to-apples comparison, but rather a rudimentary test of whether the Umatilla County Fair is getting a fair price.
Pendleton Round-Up Grounds
What: Like the name says, this is home to the Pendleton Round-Up and much more.
Size: 25.3 acres
Major facilities include the 17,000-seat arena, capable of hosting rodeos and concerts, The Pavilion with 22,000 square feet of space for equine and livestock events, and The Let ‘er Buck Room, the iconic bar that seats approximately 250 people or 600 if they stand (perhaps more during the Pendleton Round-Up).
Cost: $40,000 for five-day use of the full facility.
What would $100,000 get you: 12-and-a-half days.
Randy Thomas, Round-Up publicity director, said the cost can be subjective. The Round-Up maintains the grounds all year and donates the use of grounds to 4-H, Pendleton High School for the football team, and other youth groups and events.
“Others uses are highly situationally dependent,” he continued. “Is it nonprofit use, or for profit use? If tickets are sold, typically our ticketing system is requested. What kind of set-up, cleaning, maintenance is involved to meet specific needs? Is this a first time event that we are encouraging?”
The Pendleton Convention Center
What: City-owned-and-operated center that houses events ranging from Pendleton Bike Week to quilt shows to basketball games.
Size: 40,000 square feet
Major facilities include the Main Hall at 13,216 square feet that can seat 900 for a banquet, 11 meeting rooms throughout the building, and a 500-car parking lot.
Cost: $1,860 a day for nonprofit organizations, such as the Umatilla County Fair.
What would $100,000 get you: Almost 54 days of use for a nonprofit.
Wildhorse Resort & Casino
What: Gaming and entertainment resort the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation own and operate near Pendleton.
Size: The whole resort is big, but the casino provides more than 14,300 square feet for events and meetings.
Major facilities include the Rivers Event Center, the 6,700-square-foot room with a stage capable of holding 260 people for a banquet or up to 960 for a reception, and Cayuse Hall, a meeting room with 4,420 square feet of usable space.
Cost: Approximately $1,200 per day to rent all the space.
What would $100,000 get you: A tick more than 83 days.
Diane Long, Wildhorse marketing director, said Wildhorse is set up to support guests 24/7.
“This includes room access, security, food etc.,” she said. “So if a group rents space for three days it is theirs for those three days.”
The only limitation may be after-midnight catering support. “Food is available, of course,” she said, “but we would probably make special arraignments for catering support after midnight.”
The TRAC (Trade Recreation Agricultural Center), Pasco
What it is: A large complex that hosts conventions, sporting events and concerts. Franklin County owns and operates TRAC with financial support from the city of Pasco.
Size: 22 acres overall.
Major facilities include the 40,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, the live-sized arena and multiple parking lots.
Cost: The entire site is available starting at $12,000 a day. The second day costs $10,000, and each day after is $8,000.
What would $100,000 get you: 11 days, 18 hours.
TRAC event manager George Rodriguez said events can run 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and probably the largest event is an annual sportsman show, which uses the whole site. Tom French, the TRAC’s general manager, cautioned while the center has much to offer and accommodates a variety of events, it would not be able to hold a county fair.
Walla Walla County Fairgrounds, Walla Walla
What: Home to the Walla Walla County Fair
Size: 90-some acres
Major facilities include the Community Center, with more than 12,000 square feet that can hold 798 people, the Expo Building that provides 33,600 square feet and can hold a rodeo, and the covered outdoor arena spanning 11,200 square feet.
Cost: About $3,333 per day.
What would $100,000 get you: 30 days.
Koren Schmaltz, the exhibition and rental coordinator for the Walla Walla County Fair, explained the fair in the past rented its grounds to the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede for $10,000 for three days. At that rate, she said, $100,0000 gets 30 days of use.
Getting that space might be tough. Schmaltz said the Community Center, for example, is booked out for a year.