Alaska State Fair Master Plan
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  • 1. POPULOUS Master Plan Prepared For The: Alaska State Fair Board Of Directors May 6, 2013 Prepared By: Populous David Forkner, ASLA Principal/Senior Planner Knoxville, Tennessee Kansas City, Missouri
  • 2. POPULOUS Introduction Populous was retained by the Alaska State Fair Board of Directors in March, 2012 to develop a long range master plan for their facility. Populous is a global firm that specializes in the planning and design of general assembly facilities. This includes over 250 fairgrounds, event centers, arenas and equestrian facilities. The Alaska State Fair, Inc. is a 501 (c)3 charitable organization which is tasked with producing the annual state fair and other activities year around. Originally formed as the Matanuska Valley Fair Association in 1936, it formally changed it’s name to the Alaska State Fair in 1956. The current site was purchased in 1996 and the first Fair held there in 1997. Additional properties have been added. During the 14 months master planning process, Populous conducted site analysis; met with the Fair Board, staff, user groups, public officials and other interested parties; conducted 2 outreach meetings; attended the Fair; presented alternative concepts and this final master plan to the Fair Board. The July 1, 2012 “Alternative Concepts “ and the November 11,2012 “Preliminary Master Plan Recommendations” presentations are found in the appendences. Vision and Mission Statement The master plan is constant with the Fair’s vision and mission statements which are: Vision Alaska State Fair, Inc. provides a center for the Alaskan community to gather in a dynamic and safe atmosphere throughout the year Mission Produce a traditional State Fair which educates and entertains Fairgoers; Provide stable finances through good business practices, statewide outreach, partnership and hosting variety of community, cultural, and business events.
  • 3. POPULOUS Objectives and Guiding Principles The master plan’s objectives and guiding principles are to: • Embrace and expand the Alaskan experience • Enhance patron’s overall experience • Distribute patrons more equally throughout the grounds • Maintain and expand year round uses • Provide for future growth in Fair attendance • Advance stewardship • Balance patron value and Fair profitability • Maintain the current food vendor to patron ratio Planning Issues The following issues to be addressed are: • Potential to increase Fair attendance • Needed improvements in Visitor Service facilities • Advisability to construct a new Amphitheater • Opportunity to enhance the Fair with an Alaskan Native Cultures’ Gathering Place • An additional year round use Exhibition Building • New Gates as part of an improved patron experience • Replacement of the iconic Sluicebox • Relocation of the Equestrian Center • Replacement and location of Administration Building • Opportunity to enhance the Colony and recognize it’s uniqueness • Relocation of the Motor Sports Complex • Service areas behind the Log Cabins
  • 4. POPULOUS The Facility The Alaska State Fairgrounds are located in the Matanuska Valley on the Glenn Highway AK-1 approximately 40 mile Anchorage, 25 miles from Wasilla and approximately a mile from Palmer. This is the most heavily populated region in the state , representing approximately 42 per cent of it’s population. The total contiguous property is approximately 290 acres . A general tabulation of approximate acreage is: • “Fair Zone”: 57 acres • Parking: 97 acres • “Gravel Pit” property: 30 acres • Rebarchek Farm: 12 acres (excluding areas used for parking and RVs) • Service: 4 acres • Undeveloped and unclassified: 90 acres The site is generally organized along 4 pedestrian routes; the Purple Trail, Yellow Trail, Red Trail and Green Trail. Each has it’s associated gate and parking with the exception to the Green Trail gate which is used primarily by patrons arriving by train. All converge at the Plaza. There are some 20 publically used buildings on the site; the predominate of which are the Borealis Amphitheater, Farm Exhibits, and Raven Hall. Six are available for rental in addition to those used for winter storage. With a few exceptions, the buildings are in acceptable condition and suitable for their uses. The exceptions being the Sluicebox and the concession Cabins. The signature features are The Colony and various gardens and horticultural exhibits. • Construct an additional Maintenance/Storage facility • Opportunity to develop the Rebarchek Farm as a historic agricultural exhibit • Reclamation of the Gravel Pit
  • 5. POPULOUS The Fair The annual 12 day Fair is the signature event and reported to the largest gathering in the state, second only to the Iditarod races. It appears to be well “balanced” for the audience with respect to the types of events and activities offered. A general area breakdown including major circulation is as follows: Entertainment including the Borealis Amphitheater, Woodlot, Motorsports, and Grandstand Lawn: 12 acres Outdoor exhibits, concessions, vendors and adjacent patron circulation: 18 acres Indoor exhibits: Approximately 50,000 square feet Equestrian and Agriculture; France Equestrian Center and Farm Exhibits: 5 acres Carnival: 4 acres Special activities: The Colony and Native People’s area: 4 acres Fair Attendance, Market Penetration Rate and Growth Market penetration rate is a marketing term used, in this instance, to define the Fair’s attendance as a hypothetical per cent of it’s market area; the State of Alaska. With the 2011 attendance of slightly over 300,000 (308,572) and a state’s population of over 722,000 (722,572) the penetrate rate is almost 43 per cent. If the same rate is achieved with the state’s growth, projected to be 915,000 by 2035, the Fair’s attendance will be slightly over 393,000 (393,450). The will represent an almost a 27 per cent increase over a 22 year period. By comparison the average penetration rate of 35 peer state fairs is 15 per cent. Site Density and Carrying Capacity The “fair zone” is defined as all of the areas inside the ticketed fence line that are open to the public. This and in-grounds peak attendance are used to calculate site density and a facility’s “carrying capacity”. The “fair zone” is calculated to be approximately 57 acres. Peak day in-grounds attendance is determined as follows Total Attendance: 308,000 Peak Day: 50,000 (assumes 22,00 paid;18,000 vendors, exhibitors and employees; and 10,000 others) In-grounds Peak: 38,000 (Attendance turns over twice; the largest amount is 75% of Peak Day)
  • 6. POPULOUS The Site Density is calculated to be approximately 660 (666) persons per acre. Growth of the Fair to a projected attendance of 393,000 will result in a peak day of 64,000, an in-ground peak of 48,000 and a density of 840 people per acre. Densities of 1,000-1,200 persons per acre are common with the peer fairs. The above calculations are for gross site density and do not take into account specific conditions. Currently the greatest contractions which exceed to overall densities are in the midway, Log Cabin food court and the central Plaza. The overall strategy is to spread out densities by adding new and relocating venues/attractions along the four Trails. The Master Plan The master plan recommendations are presented at two levels; inside the fence line (in grounds) and out. As shown by Illustration 1, the site recommendations outside the ticketed fence line are to: • Develop new access drive from Inner Springer Loop to Glenn Highway. This will improve overall circulation and reduce congestion. • Convert the landfill to parking when landfill operations are complete. This will provide approximately 3,000 parking spaces. • Develop the Rebarchek Farm as a “living history” farm to demonstrate early settler Alaskan agriculture and tell it and The Colony’s unique history. In grounds recommendations are given by Trails; see orientation Illustration 2. Purple Trail As shown by illustrations 3-5, the recommendations are: • Enhance the Red, Purple and Yellow Gates with uniform structures, graphics and visitors such as restrooms , stroller rentals and lockers. • Relocate Motor Sports with an activities pit, portal entrance and replacement bleachers. This location is consistent with adjacent activities and will further energize the entrance. • Use Borealis Amphitheater for the Lumber Jack Show and Free Stage when the new Amphitheater is constructed. This will increase the Lumber Jack’s and other acts visibility and maintain the existing site dynamics and activity level.
  • 7. POPULOUS Yellow Trail Recommendations for the Yellow Trail are as follows and as shown by illustrations 6-18. • Construct Administration Building at either the Red Gate or the Yellow Gate • Construct a new 4,000 seat covered Amphitheater with additional berm seating for 4,000 and ancillary facilities including concession stands, sponsor lounge and vending spaces. • Relocate the Equestrian Center to allow the new Amphitheater’s development • Construct an Alaskan Native Cultures’ Gathering Place • Construct a 20,000 net square foot year around use Exhibition Building dividable into 2 halls each with breakout rooms and a catering kitchen. Building is to be entered from both the Yellow Trail and the Raven Parking lot. • Close Yellow Trail to vehicular traffic and develop exhibit space between the two walkways Green and Red Trails See illustrations 19-23 and below: • Replace the Sluicebox with a new 8,000 square foot structure with Fair and non-fair entertainment capabilities • Construct the Colony entry portals • Consider relocating Log Cabins if economically feasible. Otherwise screen the service areas directly behind the Cabins from the public and add a trash compactor. Service See illustration 24 and 25 • Construct a combined Maintenance and Storage Building. • Develop an access drive from East Parking Lot to Raven Parking Lot to replace the Yellow Trail drive. Architecture The image sketches of the recommendations are intended to set an architectural theme. The architecture is intended to be robust and straight forward. Principal materials are wood and metal panel. See illustrations 23 and 26.
  • 8. Overall Master Plan Illustration 1 Road Improvements Intersection Changes In Grounds Land Trust Potential Parking New Road Restricted Traffic (During Fair) POPULOUS Future Parking Rebarchek Farm Historic Farm
  • 9. POPULOUS Master Plan Development Designations Illustration 2 Yellow Trail Purple Trail Red and Green Trails Service
  • 10. POPULOUS Purple Trail Development Illustration 3 Relocated Motor Sports Complex with Pit Redesigned Purple Gate Borealis Programing • Lumber Jacks • Free Stage
  • 11. POPULOUS Aerial View Looking South East Illustration 4
  • 12. POPULOUS Motor Sports Grandstand Portal Illustration 5
  • 13. POPULOUS Relocated Equestrian Complex Administration Building Option 2 Redesigned Gate Amphitheater Native Cultures’ Gathering Place Yellow Trail Expansion Exhibition Hall Yellow Trail Development Illustration 6 Shelter Sound Wall
  • 14. POPULOUS Aerial View Looking South West Illustration 7
  • 15. POPULOUS Yellow Trail Gate Illustration 8
  • 16. POPULOUS Administrative Building At Yellow Trail (Option2) Looking East Illustration 9
  • 17. POPULOUS Relocated Equestrian Complex At The Yellow Trail Illustration 10
  • 18. POPULOUS Relocated Equestrian Complex On The Yellow Trail Illustration 11
  • 19. POPULOUS Amphitheater Looking North West Illustration 12 4,000 Berm Seating 4,000 Covered Seating Concessions / Restrooms Sponsors
  • 20. POPULOUS Amphitheater Covered Seating Illustration 13
  • 21. POPULOUS Amphitheater Berm Seating Illustration 14
  • 22. POPULOUS Alaskan Native Cultures’ Gathering Place Illustration 15 Stage/Green RoomDemonstrations/ Vending Booths Performance Field Portal
  • 23. POPULOUS Alaskan Native Cultures’ Gathering Place Illustration 16
  • 24. POPULOUS Exhibition Hall On The Yellow Trail Illustration 17
  • 25. POPULOUS Trail Level View Of The Exhibition Hall Illustration 18
  • 26. POPULOUS Green and Red Trails Developments Illustration 19 New Sluicebox Log Cabins Refurbishing The Colony Enhancements Administration Building Option 1 Redesigned Red Gate Shelter Enclosed Compactor Option
  • 27. POPULOUS Aerial View Looking North East Illustration 20
  • 28. POPULOUS Administration Building (Option 1) and Red Gate Illustration 21
  • 29. POPULOUS Red Trail Gate At The Colony Illustration 21
  • 30. POPULOUS The Colony Portal Looking South Illustration 22
  • 31. POPULOUS Typical Existing Building Treatment Illustration 23
  • 32. POPULOUS Service Development Illustration 24 Service/Amphitheater Access Maintenance/ Storage
  • 33. POPULOUS Aerial View Looking North West Illustration 25
  • 34. POPULOUS Architectural Vocabulary Illustration 26 “Cache” Tower Common Signage Wood Structure