Power boat racing will return to the Clark County Fairgrounds this summer. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Clark County Fairgrounds lands sponsor for annual boat race

The Clark County Fairgrounds has secured a sponsor that will bring powerboat racing back to Springfield this year.

Coldwell Banker Heritage Roediger has pledged a multi-year commitment to sponsor the NGK Powerboat Racing Tour at the fairgrounds in August, said Dean Blair, executive director of the Clark County Fairgrounds. The races are set for Aug. 10, 11 and 12 this year.

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“It was absolutely huge,” Blair said of the sponsorship. “There’s no question they are bringing this race to Springfield, Ohio. This race would not be happening without them.”

The deal will bring additional benefits to the fairgrounds as well. The company’s logo will be placed on the dog barn during this year’s Clark County Fair. But after that annual event is complete, the aging dog barn will be torn down. Students at the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center will build a new barn that will be named the Coldwell Banker Heritage Roediger Dog barn.

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“The most exciting part is the way this has evolved for us,” Blair said. “Through this boat race we’re gaining theis multi-year sponsorship and commitment that’s going to yield us a brand new building and it’s all coming out of the boat race sponsorship.”

The multi-purose metal building will be heated for the first time.

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“It’s one of the most dilapidated buildings here,” Blair said. “It’s also highly used because we have six 4-H dog clubs and a dog college coming here. They’re using all of our buildings here at the fairgrounds because most of the time either the weather’s not conducive to get into the dog barn because it’s not heated or because it’s in poor repair.”

The sponsor will cover the cost of the project over the next several years.

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Local officials have said the boat races boosted the profile of the fairgrounds and provided economic benefits last year. More than 5,000 people attended the Springfield F1 Grand Prix in August last year. The race, which took place on the 125-acre lake at the fairgrounds, aired on CBS later in the fall. The race was previously held in Detroit for decades.

The three-day event featured two full days of racing in three classes — F-1, F-lights and J-Hydros — as part of the NGK F1 Powerboat Championship. Between 20 and 25 boats participated in the inaugural event.

Local officials have estimated the race contributed as much as $500,000 to the area’s economy. Officials from the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau that tourism’s impact on the economy was close to $400 million last year.

The fairgrounds are undergoing significant change as local officials try to leverage the site to bring more overnight visitors to Clark County. The Clark County Convention Facilities Authority recently approved a proposal to provide $50,000 in funding to re-brand the Clark County Fairgrounds as Champions Park.

About $20,000 from the CFA would be spent on banners that would improve the look of the fairgrounds and make it easier for visitors to park and find their cars at crowded events. The remaining $30,000 would be spent on a variety of initiatives, including designing a new logo, updating websites and social media pages, administrative costs and purchasing billboards to drive traffic to the fairgrounds.

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