07/11/2016 11:16AM

New Massachusetts track would yield $100M annually


A new $150 million equestrian center and racetrack proposed by Massachusetts horsemen would generate $99 million in annual economic impact and create 950 jobs in the state, a study paid for by the horsemen contends.

The study, conducted by staff at the Center for Economic Development at the University of Amherst, was commissioned this year by the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which is seeking legislative support for the proposed equestrian center. The study was released late last week and provided by the New England HBPA.

The study states that the center should be located on a 300- to 600-acre property west of Boston. Plans for the center include a racetrack and two arenas that would be “capable of hosting indoor and outdoor dressage, eventing, and hunter/jumper competitions,” the study says. The facility would also have a retraining facility for as many as 40 retired Thoroughbreds.

The economic impact figures were based on a proposal to run 75 live racing dates at the proposed center’s racetrack between May and October, with 800 horses on the grounds. The study estimates that the track will draw a minimum of 3,000 people a day.

The New England HBPA has been pursuing the proposal since shortly after the closing in 2014 of Suffolk Downs, which had annually held approximately 100 live race dates. Suffolk’s owners announced the closing after the track was passed over for a casino license. Still, last year Suffolk held three live racing dates, and this year, the track is scheduled to hold six live racing dates.

In order to fund the construction of the center, horsemen want to use casino subsidies flowing to the state’s Race Horse Development Fund to provide collateral for bonds. That plan would require legislative approval. The fund is expected to receive approximately $50 million in subsidies for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing and breeding each year when the state’s four licensed casinos are operating.

The study identified 10 real-estate locations currently on the market that would be suitable for the equestrian center. The study says the property likely would cost $90 million to acquire, 60 percent of the entire $150 million budget for the facility.

In addition to the economic impact of the facility, the equestrian center would generate an additional $5.1 million in state and local taxes, the study said.