By Matt Reese
The building formerly known as Cardinal Hall at the Ohio Exposition Center was re-named and dedicated in honor of Governor John R. Kasich on Jan. 4, 2019. The building first opened in July of 2016.
With the announcement of the re-naming of Kasich Hall, there has been some backlash in the agricultural community about Gov. Kasich and what many people consider to be his general lack of support for the Ohio State Fair. Though Gov. Kasich has been often criticized for his limited attendance at the Ohio State Fair and was at odds with agriculture on some issues in recent months, his Administration was fairly generous with financial backing of the Ohio Exposition Center and the Ohio State Fair. From 2011 to 2018, the Ohio Expo Center received a total of $67,400,000 in capital appropriations allocated by Gov. Kasich and the General Assembly. This was higher than amounts received during the term of any governor dating back to 1987, according to Alicia Shoults, marketing and public relations director for the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair.
In addition, the Ohio Expo Center rarely receives funds earmarked for new buildings specifically, Shoults said. In more than 20 years since the Voinovich Livestock & Trade Center was built and dedicated in 1995, the Buckeye Agriculture Complex opened in October 2015 and Kasich Hall opened in July 2016, both during Kasich’s terms, Shoults said.
“During Gov. Taft’s tenure, funds were allocated for a new building, but these were instead reallocated to repair aging buildings; thus, the Coliseum was dedicated in his honor in 2010. It is uncommon for a single building to be built during a Governor’s term, and even more uncommon for two to be built,” Shoults said. “During Gov. Voinovich’s term (1991-1997), two buildings were built, although construction began in 1990 during Gov. Celeste’s term for the first of the two buildings (the Celeste Center, opened in 1991). Governor Rhodes was responsible for the most buildings to be built — seven during his 16 years in office.”