Earl Warren Showgrounds has received a $906,400 state bond to repair the Warren Hall roof.
According to a letter from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Showgrounds received the grant on Jan. 10.
Funding came from the SB 5-Proposition 68 bond measure, which was passed by voters in 2018 to provide $4.1 billion to state and local parks, environmental projects, water infrastructure projects and flood protection projects.
Showgrounds CEO Ben Sprague said the State Department of General Services (DGS) will manage the project because of the bond requirements. Because DGS is handling the project, the Showgrounds did not have to front the cost and get reimbursed from the bond later.
The bond money will go directly to DGS and Mr. Sprague said he hopes they will finish the project in 2021.
“The (bond) targeted deferred maintenance for three tiers of state facilities ﹘﹘ emergency response and evacuation and environmental conservation. It had just entered the action phase when I just took the job a year ago, facilities were submitting proposals” Mr. Sprague said.
“We also received $300,000 from the State in loan forgiveness. The State is investing in Santa Barbara which is great.”
Mr. Sprague said the bond money will be used to repair Warren Hall’s roof and (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system.
“Warren Hall was originally made as a satellite wagering facility here for online off-track betting. That model was shuttered years ago, and the building has been our primary hub for events, conferences, nonprofit parties, quinceañeras. It’s one of the largest multi-use buildings in Santa Barbara and by far the most affordable,” said Mr. Sprague.
Warren Hall’s roof has been leaking heavily for five years, which caused water damage to the ceiling tiles and inconvenience for customers.
“We’ll have events like the Starr King rummage sale. Luckily last weekend it didn’t rain but last year they had dripping water during their event. Also during emergency staging when the firefighters are sleeping in there it’s cold or hot or leaking water on them,” said Mr. Sprague.
The worst leaks are concentrated in the far left corner of Warren Hall and discolored patches of ceiling are scattered throughout the hall.
Mr. Sprague said sections of the roof will be replaced and resealed and the water downspouts will be redirected to a better location. He hopes once DGS fixes the roof, the community will pitch in to repaint the hall, replace the carpet and do some light landscaping.
“We wanna make this a more desirable and used event space because it is so affordable and this town is in desperate need of affordable event space,” Mr. Sprague said.
“If we can raise some money to make it nice inside and maybe have the community match or something, that would really go a long way.”
He added that DGS will replace the heating and air condition units with smaller, more efficient units.
“When they were originally put in they were for air exchange so people could smoke inside. We don’t actually need them to be so huge,” Mr. Sprague said.
“It’s a big deal for us; this building is our lifeblood. It’s been paying the bills for years. Business has started to go down because of the state of the rain, the state of the carpet. We’re really excited and once it gets started, this project will move quickly,” said Mr. Sprague.