06/16/2009 11:00PM

Lincoln racing secure through 2012


Horse racing in Lincoln has a home for the next few years following last week's signing of a lease agreement between the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The agreement, signed last Friday, keeps the facilities at the state fairgrounds available for horse racing and simulcasting through Sept. 30, 2012. The university's Board of Regents unanimously approved the lease agreement for the nominal fee of $1 per month. The lease states that the Nebraska HBPA accepts the grounds "as is" and will be responsible for all maintenance of the facility.

The University of Nebraska will assume control of the property on Jan. 1, 2010, as the long-term project of turning the grounds into an innovation and technology campus begins. The State Fair will move to Grand Island in 2010 on the grounds of Fonner Park with construction of new facilities there scheduled to begin shortly.

The Nebraska HBPA, which operates Horsemen's Park in Omaha under the name of Omaha Exposition and Racing, will run the final three days of the meet this year as Lincoln Race Course and assume the operation of the simulcast facility. The season here ends July 12.

The long-term goal for Lincoln Race Course and the Nebraska horsemen is to build a new track at a location in east Lincoln with a one-mile oval. All five of the state's tracks have five-eighths-mile ovals. The project cost is estimated at more than $30 million, and mechanisms for funding the project have yet to be worked out.