Demolition underway at Solano County Fairgrounds to make way for development

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's the passing of an era at the Solano County Fairgrounds, where demolition crews have begun the process of tearing down the grandstands at the old horse racing track to make room for future development.

For half a century, swift four-legged animals ruled out there. Now vehicles with tracks and crushing jaws are the most powerful things on this old horse track.

"Horse racing at county fairs was limited to only a few county fairs around the state 10 years ago. So we lost horse racing 10 years ago" according to Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan.

The Solano County Fairgrounds sits in the portion of Vallejo in Hannigan's district. Without horse racing, the 13 acres was becoming an unusable antique. But, a plan called Solano 360 surfaced a half dozen years ago. It called for replacing the track with a mixed-use residential, retail and transit development.

"We want it to be used 365 days out of the year and to benefit the public as well as private interests," Hannigan said.

So demolition began on the grandstands this week, and will likely continue through December. Solano County and the city of Vallejo have a vision for the property, but no developer to work with as of right now. But, they've set aside $90 million to help turn the project into reality.

Hannigan says the project is bittersweet for residents of Vallejo, like her, who grew up at the fair.

"I think it's okay to mourn the the past but you have to look towards the future" she said.

Hannigan says that future needs to include sustainable jobs to help the local economy.

The other 130 some odd acres on the fairgrounds site, like the exhibition hall, will be retained. It will be used for the fair and other events that still generate money for the county.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.