One-House Budgets From Senate, Assembly Carve Out Funding For Belmont Park Improvements

Written By Matt Boecker on March 21, 2023
ny horse racing belmont park improvements senate assembly one house budgets

Some much-needed upgrades are coming to Belmont Park thanks to the project’s inclusion in the one-house budget proposals from the Senate and Assembly that were approved last week by the New York State Franchise Oversight Board. The project was also included in the the Executive Budget of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

According to the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the most notable addition coming to Belmont Park is a synthetic track located on the inside of the inner turf course. This will be the historic NY horse racing venue’s fourth racing surface.

Belmont Park is long overdue for a revitalization project. The 117-year-old racetrack was last renovated in 1968, and past efforts have been made for a makeover. But now, it’s finally happening.

Sen. Joe Addabbo believes Belmont’s upgrades will benefit the racetrack, along with New York’s economy. In a statement to PlayNY, Addabbo said:

“The Belmont Racetrack project will create over 4,000 union jobs, add to state revenue, and provide a more modern, environmentally-friendly, safer track with additional green space.”

What’s coming to Belmont Park

The new oval-shaped synthetic race surface will be one mile in length. Construction will start on the project following the completion of the 2023 Belmont Park spring/summer meet in July. Construction on the synthetic track has been made possible thanks to Belmont’s recently added vehicular tunnel that grants easy access to the infield.

The completion of Belmont’s vehicular tunnel and the future synthetic racetrack are included in the NYRA’s ongoing mission to modernize the racing venue. Other future upgrades include renovations to Belmont’s three existing race surfaces, new irrigation ponds and more.

A few months ago, the NYRA installed a Tapeta Footings synthetic surface at the Belmont Park pony track. The quarter-mile surface serves mainly for the purpose of jogging horses, and it remains quite popular since opening day.

According to the NYRA, adding that synthetic track provided valuable knowledge that will be useful during the installation of the new mile long synthetic racetrack.

Hochul’s Executive Budget included $455 million in capital to fund redevelopment of the racetrack. In addition to winterizing the track and opening the infield, the budget carves out funding for redesigning the grandstand, the creation of new tracks, additional parking and a new clubhouse. Once completed, Aqueduct racing will consolidate with Belmont. As a result, the Aqueduct property will return to the state.

Long-awaited approval of Belmont Park upgrades

In December, a lobbying coalition featuring the biggest names in NY horse racing made it clear that a push for Belmont Park modernization would come in 2023. The groups backing the renovations included:

  • NYRA
  • New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
  • New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.
  • Business Council of New York State
  • Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

The NYRA made efforts for park renovations in 2022, as well. The group proposed a bill to borrow $450 million through state-issued bonds that would go towards renovating Belmont Park’s grandstand. But the bill didn’t receive the proper backing.

But thanks to the Belmont Park renovation project’s inclusion in the one-house budget, the NYRA will finally see some improvements to one of New York’s oldest racetracks. However, the NYRA made no mention of improvements coming to the grandstands; just the racing surfaces.

The lobbying coalition believes improvements to Belmont Park will be beneficial to the entire NY horse racing industry. It will attract more high-profile races, create employment opportunities and revitalize local economies.

Photo by Vera Nieuwenhuis / AP Photo
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Matt Boecker

Born in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Matt graduated from Northern Illinois University, where he covered NIU hockey for the Northern Star. Since then, Matt has specialized in NFL and NBA coverage for various websites and podcasts before shifting gears to casino and sports betting coverage.

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