Upstate New York company to lease Del Mar Horsepark

Del Mar Horsepark
Del Mar Horsepark
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Special events management company Hits LLC has been awarded the lease to Del Mar Horsepark, after a different company that submitted a winning proposal could not agree on terms.

The company, based in upstate New York, said in a news release that it wants to reopen horsepark in 2023. Located on 65 acres about three miles east of the Del Mar Fairgrounds at the corner of El Camino Real and Via de la Valle in the San Dieguito River Valley, the venue has long hosted horse shows and other events. It closed in 2021 until infrastructure updates to satisfy Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements could be addressed.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors, which oversees the property, has been looking for a lessee to implement approximately $3-4 million of wastewater management measures that would allow it to reopen.

Tom Struzzieri, president and CEO of Hits, has presided over multiple facilities throughout the country, including two in California.

“The benefit of being a lifelong horseman, rather than just an investor, gives me a unique perspective in not only developing and designing facilities, but also in acting as a horseman in the coordination of events,” he said in a statement. “These skills will be instrumental after witnessing the challenges the sport has experienced this past year. I look forward to starting the project of renovating one of the most iconic horse facilities in the country, and then producing some of California’s most outstanding events.”

Dale Harvey, CEO of West Palm Communications, was originally selected to be the lessee. But on June 6, several months after his proposal won, Harvey announced that he and the district couldn’t reach an agreement.

“We have collaborated with the 22nd DAA for over 20 years and we wish them all the best in their efforts to reopen the Horse Park,” said Harvey. “We also intend to share all the work we’ve done on the stormwater project with them.”

The 22nd DAA board now has to cancel the conditional contract with West Palms Events, and then approve the new conditional contract, according to a district spokesperson. Officials are working to set a board meeting date in early July, since the board was not scheduled to meet again until August.