Did Kaaboo’s lobbyist call the Del Mar Fairground’s new concert venue a Kaaboondoggle? Or is it all just a Kaaboohaha?
  • Did Kaaboo’s lobbyist call the Del Mar Fairground’s new concert venue a Kaaboondoggle? Or is it all just a Kaaboohaha?
  • Courtesy of Del Mar marketing
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Belly Up Kaabooted Artist renderings were unveiled last week for the Del Mar Fairground’s planned state-of-the-art concert venue that will be ready next year. The two-story venue will have polished cement floors, balconies, multiple bars, food service bays and a new LED light system.

Fair management has yet to select the contractors who will build out the still unnamed 1900-capacity concert hall housed in the Surfside Raceplace betting facility.

But it got strange at the Del Mar Fair’s monthly board meeting March 13, when board member Russ Pennimen divulged that the $18.5-million remodel loan (up from the original $13 estimate) was nearly derailed when a lobbyist from Kaaboo reportedly bad talked the loan to Sacramento-based iBank, who was funding it.

The Belly Up Tavern was initially selected as the talent buyer for the new venue. When Colorado-based Kaaboo objected, the Del Mar Fair said last month it would instead book the 60 annual concerts at the new venue with its existing in-house staff.

Penniman says the lobbyist’s trash-talking led to a “possible disruption” with the loan, and that state legislators intervened to get the loan back on track. Was the move a sour grapes sabotage? Kaaboo principal Bryan Gordon sent a letter to the Del Mar Fair saying it was all a “misunderstanding,” and that no harm was intended.

But was there longterm damage? Board President Steve Shewmaker said there will be “consequences,” and that it would be hard to “unring the bell.” Board member David Watson says that going forward, the board “Will keep track of everything Kaaboo has done,” while board member Lisa Barkett said that Kaboo was “falsifying facts to government officials.”

The lineup for the September 14-16 Kaaboo was announced March 22, with a bill featuring Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, Robert Plant, Jewel, and Stone Temple Pilots. The Colorado company is about announce plans for another Kaaboo in Dallas. It already announced a Cayman Islands Kaaboo.

In other Del Mar Fair news, spokeswoman Annie Pierce says there are no plans to change the rules for its Battle of the Bands contest. Last year’s first place winner (scoring $5000 cash and studio time with local studio Sonic Rocket) was Manuel the Band from Long Beach.

Christopher Cash, owner of Sonic Rocket, says he was happy to open up his studio to Manuel The Band, but that he thinks only local bands should be allowed to participate going forward.

“I think its only fair that it stays local,” says Cash. “After all, it is the San Diego County Fair. I don’t think you can enter pigs or apple pies from the rest of the country in the other contests.”

But spokeswoman Pierce says anyone can enter. “It allows the best bands locally to show off their skills against other top bands from across the nation, making a local win that much sweeter.” Each competing band pays a $25 entry fee.

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