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Design & Development

NYRA secures state loan to fund major revamp of Belmont Park

Featured image credit: Antony-22/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

The New York Racing Association has secured a $455m (£362m/€413m) loan from New York State to build new thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park.

The State’s 2024 budget was approved by the State Senate and Assembly on Tuesday and includes legislation authorising the NYRA to use a loan to carry out a major revamp of Belmont Park.

The NYRA said the redevelopment will be “one of the most significant racetrack construction projects in modern memory” and will go ahead with no cost to taxpayers. The centrepiece of the reimagined Belmont Park will be a new building that will completely replace the existing grandstand and clubhouse.

The NYRA will strive to construct a building that “properly reflects” the evolution of thoroughbred racing and wagering since the facility was last renovated in 1968. Belmont Park is located next to UBS Arena, the home of the NHL’s New York Islanders, which opened in November 2021.

The existing 1.25 million-square-foot structure at Belmont Park will be replaced with a roughly 275,000-square-foot facility featuring modern amenities and hospitality offerings that “fans now expect” from major sports and entertainment venues, the NYRA said.

The new grandstand at Belmont Park will dramatically increase the amount of parkland available to fans throughout the year by expanding the current backyard. New vehicular and pedestrian tunnels allowing access to the 45-acre infield will also provide fans and the surrounding community with more open space than before.

The new facility will be suitable for hosting racing all year round through the addition of a winterised building, new racing surfaces and a synthetic track.

The NYRA said the project will also guarantee the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to New York. The Breeders’ Cup has not been held at Belmont Park since 2005 due to the facility’s aging infrastructure and lack of winterised hospitality options.

“The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of good jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come,” said NYRA president and chief executive David O’Rourke.

“We thank Gov. (Kathy) Hochul and our legislative leaders for recognising the importance of this project to the countless New York families and small businesses reliant on a strong horse racing economy.”

The NYRA has also committed to expanding its campaign to modernise backstretch housing and barn area facilities throughout Belmont Park and build more housing than at any point in the organisation’s history.

Analysis from HR&A Advisors has found that the multi-year project to build a new Belmont Park will generate $1bn in construction-related economic impact and create 3,700 construction-related jobs.

Upon completion of the project, additional racing and non-racing activities at the new facility are expected to generate $155m in annual economic output, support 740 new full-time jobs, and produce $10m in new state and local tax revenue per year.