Boone County is giving most of the old fairgrounds to the city of Columbia. The city will build a major new sports complex on the land in north Columbia off the Oakland Gravel Road exit of Highway 63.
The county closed those fairgrounds in 2015 for financial reasons.
“This is a great outcome for the citizens of Boone County,” Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said Thursday. “For more than 20 years, Boone County has been able to hang on to this property until the right opportunity came along. Today, I believe we have found the perfect solution.”
Boone County will hold on to 53.6 acres of land facing Highway 63 near Oakland Gravel Road, for possible future commercial development.
The early plans from Columbia Parks & Recreation for the new sports complex include six multi-sport turf fields, four additional baseball diamonds, a track and field stadium, an all-inclusive playground, an agricultural park, and more. The city is also taking over maintenance of the MKT Trail in that area.
Mayor Brian Treece says talks started with the county four years ago. He adds the move will have a far-reaching impact.
“This is one of those legacy pieces that we’ll be able to look back 20 years from now and be very proud that the decision we made today was put in place.”
Veterans United and UPS are leasing parts of the property right now. The city will honor that until the leases run out in December 2022. Both county and city officials praised Veterans United for the money it has put in to maintenance and upkeep on the grounds.
It is not clear if the Boone County Fair will return to the former Central Missouri Events Center, after spending the past couple years in Sturgeon. Mayor Treece says he wants the fair back in town.
(This story was last updated at 4:38 p.m. Thursday.)