State rejects auction bids for Orange County Fairgrounds

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A large statue of a rabbit at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

The Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa won't be sold — at least not now.

California put the Orange County Fairgrounds on the auction block earlier this year in a bid to raise money to fill the state's budget gap.

State officials predicted they could get up to $180 million for the fairgrounds. But the highest bidder, a Newport Beach-based outlet mall developer, only bid $56.5 million.

In a letter to the governor, acting Department of General Services Director Ronald Diedrich says he's rejecting all seven bids for the fairgrounds because the bids were too low.

He says the bids aren't "in the best interest of the citizens of California" because they don't get the "highest and most certain return for the state."

Diedrich says his department will "explore alternative means" to sell the fairgrounds.

But for neighbors, this means the Orange County Fairgrounds will remain in state hands, for now.

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