SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A nonprofit designed to help with upkeep at the Illinois state fairgrounds plans on selling naming rights to fair buildings to help pay for improvements.

The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation is in negotiations with corporations for naming rights to various buildings, Chairman John Slayton told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/2sw4P7K ). The foundation hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million a year to pay for improvements, he said.

“It will start to pick up soon,” Slayton said. “The naming rights are going to be our biggest dollars.”

The backlog of repairs needed at the state fairgrounds total about $180 million to fairgrounds sites in Springfield and Du Quoin, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The agency’s director, Raymond Poe, backs the fundraising idea and says getting the first big naming rights deal will spur others. He pointed to Ford Motor Co. sponsoring a building at the Oklahoma State Fair.

“That’s what we need to land here,” he said. “If we can get that first big one, a lot will come around.”

The foundation also is selling benches and commemorative bricks that will be placed on the fairgrounds to raise money.

A top priority for repairs is the more than century old Coliseum, which will be closed during this year’s Illinois State Fair because of structural deterioration. Renovations are estimated to cost between $3 million and $4 million.

Gov. Bruce Rauner attended the foundation’s first fundraiser Sunday. He and first lady Diana Rauner are living in the Director’s House on the fairgrounds in Springfield while the Executive Mansion is undergoing renovations. He said they will dedicate resources to the fundraising effort.


Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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