Inspirational local leadership figure
Roseville, Calif.- Community leader David Attaway, one of the visionaries and leaders of the multimillion-dollar transformation of the former Placer County Fairgrounds into @the Grounds in Roseville, died while on vacation this week in New Orleans.
Attaway was 66. The cause of death is pending.
“David was a visionary unlike any I’ve had the pleasure of knowing,” said Lauryl Hernandez, Chair of the Placer Valley Tourism Board of Directors and General Manager of Hyatt Place in Roseville. “His confidence and leadership were inspirational for the Board, which led to the growth of Placer Valley Tourism and @the Grounds.”
“His vision and the organizations’ successes have forever positively impacted the surrounding communities and tourism industry. He will be greatly missed.”Lauryl Hernandez, Chair PVT Board
Attaway was hired as Chief Executive Officer of Placer Valley Tourism in 2010, with more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, including senior executive positions at Caesar’s Tahoe and Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas.
PVT – a business improvement district (BID) that includes the cities of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln – also manages the former Placer County Fairgrounds, a 61-acre site in central Roseville that was renamed @the Grounds. Attaway also served as CEO of @the Grounds.
Attaway and other community leaders envisioned transforming the decades-old fairgrounds into a multipurpose event campus, with a massive Event Center that could accommodate everything from major sports tournaments to large conference serving as the centerpiece of the plan.
In spring 2018, Placer Valley Tourism completed the first phase of the plan – a more than $10 million transformation of @the Grounds, including the renovation of Johnson and Jones halls and the multi-use barns, installation of digital marquees, new landscaping and walkways, and paving of the south parking lot.
The first phase served as the foundation for the much-larger and much-needed piece – the 160,000-square-foot Event Center. The building is the cornerstone of a far-reaching effort to attract more sports tournaments to the region.
The Roebbelen Center is one of the largest meeting spaces in the Sacramento region, able to accommodate as many as 12 full-length basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts.
The $34 million-plus Roebbelen Center opened in February 2020, just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the statewide lockdown and canceled or suspended most events. Eventually, smaller events – especially where social distancing was possible – were allowed at the Roebbelen Center.
And as much as the transformation of @the Grounds and the Roebbelen Center are about looking ahead and meeting the demand for and attracting much-larger events to the region, Attaway was always committed that @the Grounds belonged to the community. With the pandemic, Placer County held COVID testing and later the largest vaccination clinic in the region @the Grounds.
After being canceled due to Covid in 2020, the Placer County Fair returned in late-June 2021, and was among the first in the state following the official reopening of the economy – and one of the largest events to resume operations in the Sacramento region.
“Now, we can finally share what we have accomplished and our long-term vision with the Roebbelen Center and the renovation of @the Grounds,” Attaway said at the beginning of the Placer County Fair last June. “But as we’ve shown … we’re here for whatever the community needs.”