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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Vote for Central New York Raceway Park

An environmental impact study for Central New York Raceway Park has been submitted to Hastings, NY and they have applied for a license by the NYSGC to obtain a license to conduct a harness meet.  In the past, this proposal has been opposed by some claiming the competition would be too much for Vernon Downs.  Their proposal shows it not to be the case; if anything, the proposal would be complimentary to racing in Central New York.

A review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement shows there would be no casino on the grounds so their business plan doesn't include a casino (it is also in the 'no casino' area negotiated between the State and Indian tribe).

But if harness racing was conducted at CNYRP, would it impact the racing program at Vernon Downs and possibly Tioga?  Hardly.  With racing scheduled for March-April and November-December, their harness meet would bookend the racing schedule at Vernon Downs.  It appears harness racing would be used as a cash flow vehicle by CNYRP, a means to bring revenue to the project when their other facilities, primarily a road course for rental to many groups and some prominent motor events.

If there were to be a problem with the facility, it would be the fact racing would take place on a half mile track, a track which seems to be out of favor with horsemen.  However, when left with the opportunity, horsemen will race over the oval.

Being there are limited harness permits remaining in the state, existing harness tracks should be supportive of this proposal as there are no plans for casino gaming.  The state has tacitly given the project support as it has earned $2.75 million in grants for use to build the facility.  In an industry where competition appears solely to capitalize on casino gaming, this proposal not only gives horsemen a place to race when other tracks are closed but also eliminates competition for a track's gaming market.  Sounds like a project the industry in New York should get behind provided an agreement can be reached to ensure racing dates don't compete against existing track schedules.

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