The Board of Directors of the Earl Warren Showgrounds (19thDAA) and Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team (SB Equine Evac) have announced the unanimous approval and official collaboration to begin a phased renovation plan for the equestrian center at Earl Warren Showgrounds.

The plan has been broken into three phases to allow construction to proceed while the showgrounds maintains its full schedule of community events.

The initial phase improvements approved for early 2020 address critical needs and prepare the facility to host multiple equestrian events during the 2020 show season. 

Improvements include the upgrading of two-to-three barns; rebuilding the Mountain View arena and the warm-up arena with new base and footing and portable fencing; as well as establishing an endowment for continued maintenance of the arena footing for five years.

All improvements are anticipated to improve the condition of the entire grounds and ensure that Earl Warren becomes a long-term sustainable facility.

The project will be managed by SB Equine Evac board member Karen Christensen in collaboration with Showgrounds CEO Ben Sprague, with input from an equestrian advisory committee and the EWS staff. SB Equine Evac will donate the completed projects to the 19thDAA.

The project will be funded through community donations made to Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team Inc, a 501(c) (3).

“Unfortunately, Santa Barbara has faced a number of natural disasters and emergency situations in recent years,” said Michael Medel, board president. “The showgrounds play a key role in providing a base for first responders and as an animal evacuation site.

“Having a safe equestrian facility and the support of the SB Evac is key in our ability to continue this role.”

“It is incredibly gratifying to see the full spectrum of the equestrian community come together to design and plan the renovations which will allow the facility to return to prominence as a major competition facility,” said board vice president Mary Rose.

“This comprehensive phased approach provides the community with a sustainable facility for both emergency evacuations and community events,” said Kathy O’Connor, president of SB Equine Evac Board.

For those who want to make a donation, checks may be made payable to Santa Barbara Equine Assistance & Evacuation Team, Inc., with the memo: Showgrounds Equestrian Restoration Fund. P.O. Box 60535, Santa Barbara, CA 93160.

— Mary Rose for Earl Warren Showgrounds.