New Fairplex Center Gives Planners Another L.A. Option

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Pomona, CA – The addition of a 21st Century conference center to an exhibit hall built during the Great Depression provides Southern California show organizers with a versatile new venue at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona. The grand opening of the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center was held March 14 following a soft opening that drew the first of what is anticipated to be a steady stream of corporate meetings, regional exhibitions and other events requiring a cozy venue in the greater Los Angeles area.

“It serves a lot of needs from throughout Southern California,” said Jim Henwood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles County Fair Association.

With a total footprint of 85,000 square feet, the conference center is actually a combination of a newly built meeting and banquet facility and one of the exhibition halls built on the fairgrounds in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA hall, a concrete art-deco structure known as Building 8, covers 30,000 sf was given a facelift in the form of carpeting, a new sound system and hidden electrical. It is attached to the new conference center and a short walk from the nearby Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center.

The new side of the building offers 12,000 sf of flexible ballroom space for 1,000 people. A row of meeting rooms is equipped with the latest in videoconferencing and “smart” digital white boards, which will appeal to corporate meeting planners who need to reach out to branch offices around the world.

The facility, which was designed by HOK, is up for LEED Silver certification and already achieved certification from the International Association of Conference Centers. The $28 million building has two loading bays and a full banquet kitchen run by Sheraton and serviced by a nearby two-acre farm that churns out fresh produce year-round.

Fairplex sees the new center as filling a medium-sized niche in the Los Angeles market between the major hotels and the large convention centers. Pomona may sound like it is off the beaten path; however Henwood said it was easily accessible off Interstate 10. “It is 30 minutes from just about anywhere in Southern California,” he said.

The entire tree-lined campus of Fairplex offers a quiet oasis from the bustle of Los Angeles. It is available for balmy evening receptions outdoors and its other buildings are standing by for exhibit overflow.

Reach Jim Henwood at (909) 623-3111 or henwood@fairplex.com