The city of Calistoga is poised to enter into an agreement to purchase the Napa County Fairgrounds from the county for nearly $16 million, the county announced.
Under the agreement, Calistoga would buy the fairgrounds for $225,000 per acre “as is” for a total of $15,885,000, with revenue-sharing on future development of the 70-acre property.
The county says that the property — once a hotbed of activity including a speedway, golf course and home to the Napa County Fair — has fallen into disrepair. Parts of the property are still available for some special events, but it is largely inaccessible to the public.
In order for Calistoga to purchase the property, it must first form a Community Facility District (CFD) and issue voter-approved tax-exempt bonds that will need a two-thirds majority to pass.
Negotiations were well underway for the city to purchase roughly half of the property before COVID-19 hit. Then, due to “unprecedented financial conditions” associated with the pandemic, the transaction was abandoned in the spring of 2020.
Then, in the fall of 2021, Calistoga asked the county if it wanted to sell it the entire fairgrounds property, including the unused golf course and two residences. A new purchase and sale agreement was drafted, and on Sept. 8, negotiations were finalized for the sale.
Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning has said that people really want the golf course to reopen, but the Calistoga Speedway is also a high priority for some. The speedway has been dubbed the “Home of Louie Vermeil,” a racing legend who co-founded the Northern Auto Racing Club, an organization with a storied history.
“Calistoga Speedway is one of the only half-mile dirt tracks in California and it’s been silent too long,” said Christian Robinson of Performance Racing Industry on its website. “Instead of competing at their local track, racers are often forced to visit other cities and states, and that has a negative impact on the local economy.”
Racing that was once held at the Calistoga Speedway has been moved to Chico in recent years.
The deal and terms have been mostly agreed on by the Calistoga City Council and now the Board of Supervisors will be asked to approve the agreement.