New Castle News

Local News

June 2, 2012

Time running out for track-casino in county

NEW CASTLE — Time is running out for a casino and harness racing track in Lawrence County.

Last week, Chuck Long, chairman of the board of American Harness Tracks, and Joseph Canfora, chief executive officer of Merit Management Group, the Chicago firm American Harness selected to manage the proposed facility, said an announcement on the local track “will be made soon.”

Both declined to comment further.

But this week, neither could be reached following the announcement that a lawsuit by the Ohio Roundtable has been dismissed.

That suit, challenging efforts to place video lottery terminals at Ohio’s seven racetracks, has held up progress by Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming to proceed with plans to build a $150 million thoroughbred racetrack off Interstate 80 in Austintown.

If Penn National clears all legal and regulatory hurdles, and builds its planned Austintown facility, hopes for a similar venture in Lawrence County are likely to be thwarted.

American Harness’ plans include a one-mile track and a $150 million grandstand-clubhouse and casino in Mahoning Township, west of New Castle and near the Ohio border.

In November, American Harness received the license to operate a racetrack in Lawrence County.

It must now apply to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for a license to operate 2,000 slot machines and 34 table games.

With delays caused by the lawsuit out of the way, Penn National Gaming spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said, his company plans to move ahead.

The lawsuit caused delays, but Tenenbaum would not speculate how much.

“In the meantime, we purchased property needed for the Dayton and Austintown racetracks. We own that property now.”

Tenenbaum said Penn National spent $4.65 million to buy 186 acres in the Austintown area for the proposed thoroughbred track.

He noted thoroughbred tracks, often a mile long, require more room than harness tracks, which are generally shorter.

“We haven’t yet said what the dimensions will be,” he noted. “The track and the project are still in the design stage.”

In addition to the track, plans include stables, a grandstand and a video lottery terminal facility with an estimated 2,500 machines, as well as restaurants and bars.

Tenenbaum said Penn National expects to spend $200 million for each of the anticipated tracks “but that includes the $50 million license fee.”

He would not speculate when ground could be broken.

“It will take us 18 months to build,” he said, adding that even if everything falls into place, “we would be looking at an early 2014 opening.”

Penn National anticipates creating approximately 1,000 construction jobs and 1,500 jobs when the facility opens. This includes full- and part-time jobs there plus others created by companies providing goods and services to the facility.

Tenenbaum suggested anyone interested in a sneak peek of what the Austintown facility will probably look like should visit the $320 million Toledo casino that opened this week. Penn National will open a $400 million casino in Columbus in October.

“People didn’t know what to expect and were surprised when they walked in,” he said of the Toledo site. “It’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

He said the Austintown site will be similar.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • LOVEkitchen.jpg Love Kitchen: Little Caesars provides special delivery for Rescue Mission

    The Little Caesars Love Kitchen rolled into the City Rescue Mission for a special delivery Wednesday. A pizza kitchen on wheels, the big rig travels across the United States and Canada to meet the needs of the hungry, the homeless and disaster survivors.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • fairphoto.jpg County fair looks for a few good bakers

    The countdown to the 2014 Lawrence County Fair has begun. In less than two weeks, the fairgrounds will be brimming with animals, vegetables, fruit, flowers, music, food and fun. This year’s fair runs from Aug. 11 to 16.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • CarolineOrrico.jpg Local teen off to state DYW event

    Lawrence County’s 2015 Distinguished Young Woman is heading back into scholarship competition.

     

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • NicholsonOffice.jpg County to buy new office for Nicholson

    Before the end of the year, the Lawrence County commissioners plan to move District Judge Jennifer Nicholson into new offices.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • PortersvilleSS.jpg Portersville Steam Show summer event arrives

    The Portersville Steam Show will stage its summer event Thursday through Sunday at its show grounds.

     

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Veteran.jpg Veterans seminar to view technology

    A veterans benefits seminar has been set for Friday. The program will run from 2 to 4 p.m. in the commissioners room of the Lawrence County courthouse.

     
     

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Part-time guard position created

    The Lawrence County Salary Board created a part-time temporary court guard position Tuesday.

     

    July 30, 2014

  • JaredGustafson.jpg Mohawk senior Jared Gustafson elected nation FCCLA officer

    A Mohawk High student was elected to national office at a leadership conference in Texas. Senior Jared Gustafson now is the 2014-2015 national vice president of parliamentary law for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • PipeDreams.jpg Concert to feature sounds of ’60s

    This week’s Friday Night Live at Riverwalk Amphitheater will feature a 1960s theme. Entertainment will be provided by Pipe Dreams. The group performs a tribute to the British Invasion and American rock ’n roll with music from The Beatles, Stones, Doors, Monkees and hits from Motown and Philly.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Environmental groups oppose forced pooling

    An effort by local landowners to have forced pooling declared unconstitutional is getting some outside support. Two environmental groups — Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Mountain Watershed Association — have filed a friend of the court brief with Commonwealth Court. They are asking that the court review forced pooling, which is part of a 1961 Oil and Gas Conservation Law, before scheduled hearings take place.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo