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What's Happening?

UPDATE (Monday 5/13/19)

Response to SB-281 Authors suspending their bill

(for full text of Author's announcement see Update 5/10/19 below)

Save the Cow Palace Media Release:



May 13, 2019

Cow Palace Saved!
Community rallies to support Bay Area Icon



         Daly City, CA – The world famous Cow Palace, has been saved! Senate bill 281 (Wiener/Ting) put pressure on the venue’s Board of Directors to stop gun shows at the facility, but stopped short of removing it from the Fairground system and opening it up for development. A Bay Area cultural icon, entertainment venue, and emergency shelter for 78 years, the Cow Palace can now continue to offer unique event space to a wide variety of shows not able to afford newer facilities such as the Chase center.


            “Thousands of Cow Palace fans voiced their belief in a bright future for this much needed venue,” says Kevin Patterson, Executive Director of the Save the Cow Palace Coalition. “The authors of SB-281 helped shine a light on its value. We feel they have stimulated a bright and creative future for the Cow Palace.”


By suspending their bill, the authors are giving the Cow Palace time to continue with plans for retail and housing on some of its land. This will benefit the local community and grow the $3 million fund the Cow Palace has banked for repairs and upgrades.


“As an event professional for 40 years, I can say that there is no other venue in Northern California that has the combination of affordability and unique space to be truly creative. Innovative events require this. The Cow Palace has allowed my family’s show, the Dickens Christmas Fair now in its 20th season at this venue, the ability to create something special for the Bay Area.” says Patterson. “With so much creativity in the Bay Area, I can’t wait to see what happens next.”


            The Cow Palace’s storied history includes speeches by John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and performances by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and so many more. It is the current home to the Grand National Rodeo, the Golden Gate Dog Show, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, concerts, athletic competitions, trade shows, and large-scale corporate parties. U2 headlined at Salesforces’ “Dreamforce,” raising $10 million dollars for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.


            Until need arises, most do not appreciate that the 68-acre State Fairground serves as part of the local emergency response plan, ready to shelter thousands and function as a major command post after a large earthquake or other disaster.


            The Cow Palace also serves the community through job creation, tax revenues, multicultural events, and priceless moments between parents and children, who return each year to create new memories. New shows and public uses are proposed every year and the venue is completely self-supporting, taking no money from State coffers.


Visit to learn more.


Contact: Kevin Patterson, Executive Director, Save the Cow Palace Coalition



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UPDATE (Friday 5/10/19)

After more than two months of advocacy by our coalition and others, the authors of SB-281 are suspending their bill.  Please see below.


Here is the full text of the press release just put out 5/10/19 by the authors of SB-281.

May 10, 2019
Contact: Victor Ruiz-Cornejo,, 415.604.6817 
In Light of Significant Progress at Cow Palace, Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Ting to Delay Cow Palace Legislation Until January to Allow for Additional Dialogue
In response to Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Ting introducing SB 281 to ban gun shows at the Cow Palace and authorize sale of the Cow Palace’s land to a local agency, the Cow Palace stopped ignoring the local community (after doing so for decades), ended the gun shows, and announced it is pursuing development opportunities.
Given this progress, Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Ting will postpone the legislation until January, work with the local community and the Governor, and determine in January whether sufficient progress has been made
San Francisco –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) announced that, in light of significant progress at the Cow Palace, they are pausing Senate Bill 281 until January. The bill, which has been passed by three Senate committees, remains alive and active. The authors are simply delaying a vote on the bill until January, as part of the two-year legislative session.
SB 281 bans gun and ammunition sales at the Cow Palace, a state owned-venue located in Daly City and San Francisco, and authorizes sale of the entire 68-acre Cow Palace property to a locally controlled authority comprised of Daly City, San Francisco, and San Mateo County.
Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Ting - with co-authorship of every legislator representing San Francisco and San Mateo Counties - introduced SB 281 after decades of frustration with the Cow Palace Board of Directors, which persisted in holding gun shows despite universal local opposition and various bills to ban the gun shows (by then-Senators Jackie Speier and Mark Leno and by Senator Wiener). In addition, Daly City has wanted to redevelop part of the site for years, due to its blighted condition, yet the Cow Palace has never done so.
After introduction of SB 281 and after it was passed by three Senate policy committees, the Cow Palace Board of Directors passed a motion not to renew the contract for the gun shows and announced that it will explore development opportunities. Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Ting believe it makes sense, in light of these developments, to slow the bill down in order to create space for the Cow Palace, local stakeholders, and the Governor to engage in dialogue about the future of the site.
“I’m thankful that the Cow Palace Board of Directors has ended the gun shows and announced that it will explore development of its land,” said Senator Wiener. “To be clear, the Cow Palace should have taken this step years ago, and it should not have taken state legislation to move the agency to this point. However, better late than never, and I am heartened that the Cow Palace has finally taken these steps. Given the epidemic of gun violence gripping our country, the last thing we need is a gun show venue in the heart of the Bay Area. And, it’s time to have a meaningful discussion about the future of this site. Between now and January, we will work closely with the Governor and local stakeholders and will carefully watch the actions of the Cow Palace Board of Directors.”
“I’m glad the Cow Palace Board of Directors finally voted to give the community what it wanted and banned gun shows,” said Assemblymember Ting. “On the land use aspect of SB 281, I believe the current site could be better utilized to meet local needs. However, I understand it’s best for all parties to make the proposal a two-year bill, given the concerns expressed about what redevelopment would mean for the arena. This will allow everyone more time to work out their differences and ensure all voices are heard.”
In addition to Assemblymember Ting, SB 281 is also co-authored by the entire two county state delegation including Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), and Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), and Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco). The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Daly City Council both voted unanimously to support the bill, and Mayor London Breed is also supportive.
Full text of the bill can be found here.
Victor Ruiz-Cornejo
Communications Director 

Senator Scott Wiener





UPDATE (Tuesday 4/16/19):

The Cow Palace board of directors voted in its April meeting to end gun shows at the Cow Palace. This is the focus of the bill, but the Cow Palace is still threatened. Senator Wiener has decided to continue his bill essentially unchanged. SB-281 as written, bans gun shows, but it also bans all of us. It would remove the property from the State Fairground system. Senator Wiener says this will allow for community input. This is exactly backwards, the community is already speaking. Thousands of calls and letters from all of us, very clearly voicing that we want the Cow Palace to continue as an event center, a celebration center, an evacuation center, and so much more.


The authors of this bill (all 7 of them) need to be told (again and again) that the Cow Palace is not for sale. The people of California own it, and we would like to continue to own it for generations to come. Just like Golden Gate Park, it is not for sale. If we were to take a poll the result would be to keep the Cow Palace as a functioning event center, with an appropriate amount of housing and retail on the extra acreage.


To be crystal clear we need to tell the authors of the bill - do not take the Cow Palace property away from us, and then ask us what we want to do with it!

Our work to save it is not done. The April decision by the Cow Palace board exposes the likely land grab behind the gun show ban. Please let your representatives know how you feel. And keep spreading the word.

About the Bill: SB-281 was proposed in February of 2019 by Senator Scott Wiener and several co-authors. We believe it is unnecessarily aggressive legislation that proposes to transfer State fairground property to a brand new bureaucracy (new Cow Palace "Authority") made up of officials from San Francisco, San Mateo County and Daly City. The bill would ban the gun shows and then take State Fairground property, owned by the California taxpayers, and make it available to development interests. This sets a dangerous precedent for other public fairgrounds throughout the State and is not the way to solve the California housing crisis.

The authors of this bill claim that it does not call for demolition of the Cow Palace, that this decision would be made by "the community." Market forces in this hyper-inflated real estate market almost guarantee that the Cow Palace will get bulldozed regardless of what the "community" says, ...and the public will loose. We must defeat this bill and allow the current Cow Palace State Fairground board of directors to support housing and retail on a portion of its property - and continue to improve the facility - while protecting this important public-owned asset.

Who We Are: The Coalition to Save the Cow Palace was formed in 2008 to oppose legislation by then-Senator Leland Yee that was intended to sell the Cow Palace property for the benefit of development interests. We succeeded in two separate campaigns to defeat his legislation. Our membership is comprised of a broad coalition of Cow Palace attendees, vendors, community groups, and event workers.

Cow Palace Arena - Cow Palace attendance - Cow Palace sold out audience - Cow Palace show - Cow Palace history - Cow Palace importance - Cow Palace fans - Cow Palace events
Grand National Rodeo
Cow Palace Concerts
Themed events
Box office wall
Cheer Competitions
1964 Republican National Convention
Cow Palace Seating
box office wall of famous signatures
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
The Beatles at the Cow Palace 1964
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