Nueces County Commissioners are moving forward with plans to construct a marquee at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in order to raise awareness of the facility and better promote its events.

The measure was unanimously approved by commissioners at a March 31 meeting, during which they gave permission to Naismith Engineering to move forward with designing plans for the $280,000 project. The proposal includes the use of a video screen on the marquee in order to display information on upcoming events.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Pusley said he was glad to see the marquee project moving forward, and added he had inquired about the delay in having one installed since the fairgrounds opened in 2007. The county had planned on waiting for the opening of a proposed outlet mall in order to have the developer of that project assist financially with the construction of a marquee. That project has since been delayed several times.

"That's all fine and good, but in the meantime, our fairgrounds could really use that advertisement because people drive by there and they don't even know what the heck is happening on a day-to-day basis, unless you go and check out the Web site or read the paper," he said. "This really helps."

The final location, size and cost have yet to be determined, but Pusley said the marquee would likely be located on county-owned land.

"If we build it, it'll be located on our property and not on the property that's been allocated for the outlet mall," he said. "I would assume if the (developer) comes in later on and want to have some part of that, we would let them buy into the use of that marquee."

Discussions may be held with the outlet mall developer, Dolphin Ventures I LLC, prior to the marquee's construction, Pusley said, to ensure cooperation from all parties.

Fairground general manager Jason Green said the marquee will open up opportunities for generating new advertising revenue for the facility, as well as better promoting upcoming and current events.

"We can generate some advertising money by putting advertisers up, not only on the screen, but maybe some permanent signage, as well," he said. "But I think it will create a big visibility (increase) for the fairgrounds."

Green said larger trade and exhibition shows, such as the Peddler Show and Saxet Gun Show, will benefit from the marquee, since people driving down U.S. Highway 77 have no way of knowing what event is taking place if they see a parking lot full of cars. Knowing one of those trade shows, or others like it, is occurring may pull them off the highway and into the fairgrounds, he added.

"With all the drive-by traffic, I think it's going to create even more attendance," he said.

Generating more foot traffic through the fairgrounds, which may lead to more revenue and events, are reasons why Pusley said he supports the construction of a new marquee.

"I think that's a really important thing," he said. "If you're going to try to run a business, it's just like any other business - you've got to have a sign on the door…otherwise, you'll think there's nothing going on over there."