Over 100 people, including union members, backstretch workers, trainers, veterinarians and farmers gathered Monday in Albany, New York, in support of a plan to modernize Belmont Park, which, according to a release, promises significant new job creation and as much as $1 billion in one-time ecomomic impacts while freeing up 110 acres of state-owned land at Aqueduct Racetrack for future development. The project was included in Governor Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget Proposal.
According to a release, Belmont Park’s 117-year-old facilities have not been upgraded since 1968 and its modernization will provide a ‘critical boost to New York’s economy’ while creating a world-class sports and hospitality destination when paired with the New York Islanders’ UBS Arena adjacent to the track.
An independent economic analysis conducted earlier this year by the We Are NY Horse Racing coalition found that $1 billion would be generated by renovating Belmont Park and create 3,700 construction-related jobs. At least a third of that spending, $136 million, would be spent with Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBES). Upon completion, the release says Belmont Park would support $155 million in annual economic output and 740 new jobs. It is also expected that the modernization will pave the way for the New York Racing Association to bid to host the Breeders’ Cup. Belmont last hosted a Breeders’ Cup in 2005.
The release indicates that horse racing in the state of New York supports a total of 19,000 and generates $3 billion in economic activity. The project is to be funded through a construction loan from the state–paid back in full with interest–and therefore there is no cost to the state’s taxpayers.
“Horse racing is an economic engine for our state, sustaining 19,000 hardworking New Yorkers’ jobs and generating billions in economic activity. If we want these benefits to continue, it’s critical that we modernize Belmont Park,” said State Senator Joe Addabbo, Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. “As we enter the final stretch of budget season, I will continue to work with my colleagues to move this project forward and secure a strong future for horse racing across the state.”
“From Saratoga to Belmont, the immense positive impact horse racing has on New York is obvious–and we owe it to the thousands of families that depend on this sport for their livelihoods to ensure horse racing has a strong future in the Empire State,” said Assembly member Gary Pretlow, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering. “Building a new Belmont Park will safeguard horse racing for generations to come, drive economic activity, boost the state’s tourism and hospitality sectors, and create good jobs for New Yorkers.”
Added We Are NY Horse Racing Spokesman Jack Sterne, “The vast majority of New Yorkers support modernizing Belmont Park, which is why over a hundred people came to the Capitol today to urge lawmakers to build a new Belmont,” said Jack Sterne, We Are NY Horse Racing spokesman. “This project will create jobs and boost New York’s economy — and as legislators head into the final stretch of budget negotiations, we’re going to continue making our voices heard so this transformative project is included in the final state budget agreement.”
— We Are NY Horse Racing (@NY_Horse_Racing) March 13, 2023