04/17/2007 11:00PM

California town rejects Magna track


Voters in Dixon, Calif., rejected all four measures in a Tuesday special election that would have allowed Magna Entertainment Corp. to build a new racetrack in Dixon, a city of 16,000 located 20 miles west of Sacramento.

Voters cast ballots on referendums on two ordinances and on two resolutions approved by the Dixon city council to develop 260 acres northeast of the city into a racetrack. The measures were all rejected by about 53 percent to 47 percent.

Magna owns Golden Gate Fields and has been trying for seven years to gain approval to build another track in Northern California.

Following Tuesday's defeat, Dennis Mills, Magna Entertainment's vice chairman, told the media, "We still own the property," and said Magna might come back with a new proposal.

Michael Neuman, Magna's chief executive officer, said in a press release, "MEC strongly believes in its proposed plan for Dixon and the powerful economic impact such a plan could have on any town, particularly following the anticipated closure of another racetrack in the region."

Neuman was referring to Bay Meadows, which has announced it will not request dates for 2008 and is expected to close at the end of its fall meeting in November. That would leave Golden Gate Fields as the only major racetrack left in Northern California and could open up about 100 racing dates that could go to Golden Gate and some of the state's fair tracks.

The special election was called after some Dixon citizens submitted petitions in January calling for an election in reaction to the Dixon city council's approval of Magna's plans to build Dixon Downs.

The track was to have a 1o1/8-mile synthetic racetrack and one-mile turf course. Plans included shops, restaurants, a hotel, conference center, and movie complex adjacent to the track.