Recent news that the Cow Palace may be purchased and razed to create housing, retail space and a school came as an unpleasant surprise for organizers of the numerous shows held at the 67-year-old venue on the edge of Daly City.
Although city officials hope to buy the property from the state, San Mateo County Event Center said it will be able to accommodate most Cow Palace shows. Organizers, however, disagree. They say the Cow Palace provides the perfect location, amount of event space and parking that other Bay Area venues simply don’t have.
The Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show, which has been held at Cow Palace since the early 1960s and attracts 30,000 people over one weekend, will not fit into the San Mateo center, Chairman Mike Stone. As for the Moscone Center, it does not have parking for RVs that come to the dog show.
"It’d be a shame if we would lose the Cow Palace," Stone said. "I’d have to find something that’s equivalent to it."
Kevin Patterson, who organized the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in December, said the Cow Palace provided a perfect space after the fair outgrew Fort Mason facilities.
"We need the space for two months to build our little version of London, bring it to life and pack it up," Patterson said. "The Cow Palace has 100,000 square feet of exhibition hall space that is just perfect."
According to Patterson, Daly City did not consider whether other facilities in the area would be able to accommodate his and other shows. However, City Manager Patricia Martel said she was assuranced by the San Mateo County Events Center that many of the Cow Palace shows could be easily absorbed by the center.
"If anything is the issue, it’s the fact that Cow Palace has the lowest lease rate available," she said. "The question is whether that’s enough justification to keep it just because it’s the cheapest venue around, especially if it doesn’t make any money for state."
Organizers said the solution to keeping the Cow Palace and making it profitable is selling a 13-acre parking structure nearby and using the money to renovate the aging facility and attract more events.
"I’ve been there for 11 years and assurances were made to me that improvements were going to be made," said Duane Kelly, chairman of the San Francisco Garden Flower & Show, which begins next week. "I was expecting the announcement about improvements, not about demolition."