Sponsors for activities at the Lake County Fairgrounds are common, but for the first time, the association that runs the facility is soliciting long-term naming rights for its signature building.
Interested parties are being sought to submit written proposals and tour by appointment the 85,000-square-foot multipurpose Event Center, the centerpiece of the fairgrounds at Peterson and Midlothian roads in Grayslake.
The 92nd annual Lake County Fair and all other live events were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but while income is important, officials say it isn't the impetus for the call for naming rights.
"We've talked about it for at least seven years," said Jon Brodzik Jr., general manager and a former member of the not-for-profit association's board of directors.
"It's one of those things we kicked around but never had the time or opportunity to do it."
The Event Center was built in 2008 as the fair prepared to move from its longtime home at routes 45 and 120 in Grayslake.
It is set back from Peterson Road but is recognizable from a distance by an expansive green roof. As advertised, the center hosts more than 500,000 annual visitors for a variety of branded events, as well as antique, home and garden, and dog shows.
Inside, the Expo Hall is described as "social-distance friendly" and flexible. Large vehicles, watercraft and industrial equipment can be driven inside to accommodate car, RV and boat shows, swap meets, sporting events and concerts, according to bidding information.
Also, two event center meeting rooms can be used separately or combined for socially distanced meetings and private events for up to 180 people.
During normal operations, the event center is booked nearly every weekend year-round, Brodzik said. But because of state mandates, only 50 people are allowed inside, so activities have been on hold.
"Most of the people who rent the site have more than 50 vendors. We're in limbo at the moment," he said.
Meanwhile, work continues on maintenance and other projects.
Known collectively as the Lake County Fairgrounds & Event Center, the property is about 120 acres, including 12 acres of paved surface. That provides space and parking for outdoor music festivals, farmers markets, obstacle fun runs and other events, according to the fair association.
A grandstand arena seats up to 5,000 and can be used for rodeos, motor sports or equestrian events. Also, a Show Barn is used for weddings, family reunions and corporate events.
Brodzik said the call for corporate sponsorship was approved at the July board meeting. Bids are due by 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4. A contract will be awarded within 30 days on the "determination of value and the best interest" of the fair association as determined by the board of directors.
"We didn't set any minimums on anything," he said.
"We're testing the waters," he added. "Hopefully, it's a Lake County company."
Interested parties should call (847) 680-7200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and use the "Invitation to Bid" subject line. Visit www.lcfair.com.