Nearly 40 Years After Last Renovations, Belmont Park Set To Get Financial Infusion From State

Written By Matt Boecker on May 12, 2023
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Some long overdue renovations are coming to Belmont Park thanks to the project’s approval in New York State’s FY 2024 budget.

Belmont Park is arguably the most iconic thoroughbred racing facility in the country. But its most recent renovations came in 1968. This made for some desperately needed upgrades that are now on the way for the New York horse racing track.

After the legislation passed through the Senate and House, the New York Racing Association is now in line to receive a $455 million loan to upgrade Belmont Park

In a statement announcing the news, the NYRA commended Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assemb. Gary Pretlow for the work they did to get Belmont Park the funding it needs. Sen. Leroy Comrie and Assemb. Michaelle Solages also received praise from the NYRA.

What’s to come at Belmont Park

Belmont Park’s massive loan will allow the NYRA to modernize multiple areas of need. First, the existing 1.25 million-square-foot structure will be replaced with a 275,000-square-foot facility featuring updated amenities for patrons.

New grandstands will also be added to Belmont Park, home of the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. This should increase the amount of parkland accessible to guests and community members, as the current Belmont backyard will be expanded.

For the first time ever, Belmont’s 45-acre infield will now be accessible through vehicular and pedestrian tunnels. Additionally, the park will install a winterized building and synthetic race surface, allowing for year-round thoroughbred racing. Once completed, the NYRA plans to move all its downstate NY racing and training activities to Belmont Park.

Belmont hasn’t hosted the Breeders’ Cup in nearly 20 years because of the park’s dilapidated facilities. But last year, the Breeders’ Cup made a commitment that Belmont would return to the rotation once the racetrack received upgrades.

The NYRA also plans to improve areas of Belmont Park that aren’t fan-facing. This includes modernizing the backstretch housing and barn facilities throughout the property. Plus, Belmont will construct new housing as part of an ongoing campaign to redevelop the track’s living quarters.

In total, an HR&A Advisors’ analysis expects the multi-year project to generate $1 billion in economic impact pertaining to construction, with the creation of 3,700 construction jobs.

Once completed, the new amenities at Belmont Park expect to generate $155 million annually, support 740 full-time jobs and create $10 million in annual tax revenue.

Ongoing push to renovate Belmont Park finally comes to fruition

Last year, the NYRA made multiple pushes to direct funding toward Belmont Park. The NYRA even joined forces with other major players in the NY horse racing industry to create a lobbying coalition.

Other group members included:

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

The coalition proposed to steer $450 million to the NYRA to update Belmont Park. The racetrack received just that in the state budget.

Plus, the budget says the NYRA expects to repay the state for the entire cost of the project using funds dedicated to capital improvements.

Photo by Seth Wenig / 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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