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Daily Pilot

Barrett-Jackson car auction quits O.C.

Fair Board vice president says the decision is based purely on finances.

By Bradley Zint

8:05 PM PST, December 21, 2012

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Barrett-Jackson car auction officials have chosen not to renew their contract for 2013 with the Orange County Fairgrounds, officials confirmed Friday.

The news came during the Orange County Fair Board's meeting Thursday, when the board members heard of Barrett-Jackson's disappointment that compared to its other auctions, the event in Costa Mesa was not as profitable as they might have hoped.

The fair's loss with Barrett-Jackson's withdrawal might be as much as $500,000, board members said.

"That doesn't reflect hotels and all the other things that are involved the week that they're down here," said Fair Board Vice Chairman Stan Tkaczyk. "They certainly bring a lot of commerce to Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and everyone down here."

Barrett-Jackson had a year-to-year contract with the fairgrounds, which has hosted the event since 2010.

Barrett-Jackson officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon. The auction house is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., which also is home to one of its auction events. The cities of Las Vegas and Palm Beach, Fla., host two others.

The July auction in Costa Mesa generated $14 million in sales, organizers said at the time. Nearly 54,000 people attended the three-day event, which showed signs of growth as more first-timers registered to bid. It featured 400 cars, most sold within the six-figure range.

"Southern California is without a doubt the car culture capital of the U.S.," Craig Jackson, Barrett-Jackson chairman and chief executive, was quoted saying at the time. "The quality and variety of the vehicles we see here is astounding, and the success we had here this year, and every year, is a testament to the large number of people who live and breathe the collector car lifestyle in this region."

Costa Mesa city officials have said the event generates millions for the city through hotels, restaurants, entertainment and shopping. In 2011, the fairgrounds reported receiving $325,000 through both revenue and rent.

bradley.zint@latimes.com

Twitter: @bradleyzint