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Planned Valley racetrack, resort unveiled

Published: Sun, January 16, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

RELATED: Gov. Kasich unhappy with terms for Ohio casinos

By Jeanne Starmack



Developers are planning a $300 million complex that includes a race track, a resort with a 400-room hotel, a golf course, theaters, stores and restaurants in the Youngstown area.

A partner in the Mahoning Valley Development Group says there will also be a casino in the complex if it can include video lottery terminals, or slot machines.

Rick Lertzman, a former business consultant, and Bradford Pressman, a retired podiatrist, both of Cleveland, are partners in the venture, Lertzman told The Vindicator Saturday.

Lertzman said that, unlike the troubled Valley View Downs project across the state border in Lawrence County, Pa., their venture has funding in place from local and national investors. Centaur, which wanted to build a combined race-track/casino — labeled a ‘racino,’ in Mahoning Township, lost its funding because it couldn’t get a gaming license by a specified deadline. Centaur sold its property in December to American Harness Track LLC, which is still on course to develop a racino there.

Lertzman said the Pennsylvania project will have no bearing on whether his development group will go forward with its own plans.

He said Youngstown is a good location for the venture.

“It’s the only major demographic area that does not have a casino,” he said. “We think it’s high time Youngstown had something.”

Lertzman said the Mahoning Valley Downs & Resort will be built on more than 200 acres, but he would not reveal the exact location. He said roads, water and sewer lines are already in place.

The project should generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and 1,500 to 2,000 permanent jobs, he said. It would be the state’s eighth racetrack.

Lertzman also said the partnership believes there is a good chance the complex will include a casino.

He said former Gov. Ted Strickland supported VLTs with racetracks, and the issue is in court to determine if he has the right, as governor, to legalize them through the state lottery. Gov. John Kasich, who assumed office last Monday, has not indicated how he stands on the issue, Lertzman said.

“We think it’s going to happen because the racetracks are having financial difficulties,” he said. He said that since a 2009 statewide ballot allowed four casinos in Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland, the racetracks would lose even more ground without VLTs.

There are 40,000 jobs connected to the state’s racing industry, he pointed out.

Lertzman said the development group plans to apply for a license from the state racing commission within two months.

He said he doesn’t know how long it will take to get the license. The developers hope to break ground by late summer or early fall.

The complex plan includes a visitors center, thoroughbred horse racing, the casino, a five-star resort including the hotel , an international spa, a Kids Quest, a teen arcade, entertainment, “cutting-edge” shopping and dining and a championship golf course that “will attract national events.”


1northsideperson(366 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

If they put a "resort" within city limits, it will fail. I can't picture anyone that lives outside the area wanting to come into the city unnecessarily.

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2block50(128 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Has about as much chance of happening as the airplane factory of the 70's did. Anyway, ripping off the 'suckers' is not a very efficient or moral way of building an ecocomy. There's enough corruption in the area already.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I think Jimbo's Indian Reservation has a better chance.

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4bmanresident(607 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

It'll be a great place for us to spend our welfare checks!

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5UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

The race tracks are going broke all over the state of Ohio and this one will succeed why?

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

"“We think it’s high time Youngstown had something.”

RIGHT ON ! So the rumors proved to be true . NYC has plenty of money to spend and we can be in a position to entertain them here in The Valley . A horsetrack coming to The Valley is excellent news and has my stamp of approval !

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7digger(9 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

The planned project is a start,All the negatives come from those who want to give opinions not answers. Development is improvement, The jobs and local tax moneys are sorely needed,think positively,Help support.

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8Jerry(845 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

As long as it is private investment money, why should anyone have a problem? If it has even a ghost of a chance of success, providing tax breaks to the investors would be reasonable to consider, making the investment more feasible and attractive.

Just make sure this does not get one single dime of public (Federal, State, or Local) investment, like the ridiculous pork barrel boondoggle Covelli Center.

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9jethead11(139 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

“It’s the only major demographic area that does not have a casino,”

Hmmm, remind me where the casino is in Atlanta? How about Salt Lake City? Myrtle Beach? Nashville?

I say bring on the casinos. But I'd be careful investing with a group that makes obviously uninformed statements like that.

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10mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

As long as there are no tax-payer dollars involved--------why not?

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11dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like they already have the location.Wonder why they won't disclose it. This would be great for this area, but I wouldn't want to get hopes up. We've been let down so many times before.

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12southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Great, and who in this area has money to there and spend? Another grand waste of time and taxpayer money!

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13anothermike(226 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

After all of the shake-down politicians from Columbus and the Valley get through with the "investors", it will go by the wayside like everything else.

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14BusDriver(46 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

To southsidedave are you kidding do you know how many people from this area go to mountaineer or that other one in PA or even to those internet cafe's to play the slots they are packed check out the one on midlothian across from gino's they always look busy to me, just shows people have the money... when it comes to entertaining themselves people really dont hesitate. Alot of people dont have the money to go take vacations, flying is expensive, but to make that trip WV is a very cheap getaway. This area needs something to boost the economy, and if its going to use private money fine let it ride!!

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15endthismess(463 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

For once, just be positive... people. When you realize how pathetic your narrow minds really are, maybe, just maybe you can leave the finished fifties, sixties and seventies, old haunting thoughts, closed buildings, failed businesses, should of"s, could of's and move into the new century. If our downtown does not stay alive, our suburban living will not make it either. Life begins in the heart.... and here that is our downtown area whether you like it, know it or want to believe it. Every city which has come back (i.e. locally Pittsburgh and Cleveland) is alive today and all have their downtown areas as "THE HUB" of where their city's energy flows out to their suburbs, like it, believe it or not. Youngstown's mark on the industrial map and postion in the United States began very early in the late 1800-1900's when we were known for the beginning of the money making steel industry. (And none of us were here to see that industrial success. Many of us who still live in the area arrived after Youngstown's steel indusrty was heading into the bottom of the 100 year industrial cycle). But then arrives a few "unknown's" who decided to come to the area in the late 1800's-early 1900's with their own money, saw the river, set up shop and made "steel" money, which allowed local citizens to earn money too. Others came along and decided to make and sell ice along the river. Miners saw the river as a way to move their mined coal and sell it to the new steel mills. All these " there never gonna make it" jobs made it. All this transferred into more local businesses and more jobs. Everything has a life cycle. 100 years later, Youngstown's life continues to try to come out of the end of it's100 year cycle to start evolving again, with or without all you 3rd and 4th generation of negative, repetitious brooders. If is isn't a casino, it WILL be something else associated with present day wants, needs and age. In order stay alive, you have to keep looking for new business which equals food to sustain. If the late 1800-1900's investors who came into Youngstown did not see an opportunity have the discipline to commit and know how to start business here with their own funds, we would have never been on the map! If you stop looking, you will continue be difficult, rigid believers, stay hungary, remain focused and dedicated to always being negative. If someone is willing to invest in a business here, just what part of your personal wallet is involved? Who's asking you to personally finance or contribute your own money toward making an investment? But, I'll bet you'll be in line for a new job, huh! Give yourselves a break. Turn the page for once.

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16Billybob21(96 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I think this a great idea dont mind all the people who are nay sayers and are probably on govt handouts. Bring it to the area maybe you can put it down by the brownfields in campbell. Then next we can push for riverboat gambling we will be the new atlantic city. Great Idea!!!

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17Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I hope it happens but the doom and gloomers Tea bangers are trying to put it down. Go get a life .
We need jobs

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18mlamar(12 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Please folks, we all know things have gone from bad to worse around here. But don't kill the dream or those that dare to dream. Good things can still happen in Youngstown. Seems that every time someone dares to think out of the box, a do nothing rises from his easy chair to his soapbox and starts taking cheap shots. If you aint rowing gobackensidowna.

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19valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Freeatlast.. I have a hard time believing the Tea Party crowd is the doom and gloomers. The pessimists in this area vote down the party line each election for the D's.

Would LOVE to see this happen, but will remain weary until it is built.

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20walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

The race tracks in Ohio are are in bad shape, both physically and financially. Video gaming would provide some revenue to help get them on their feet again and for Ohio to generate some income. If this project has private financing in place, let it come to town. But, after all the money spent on the campaign to get casinos written in to the state Constitution, these big money people are not going to let any of this happen very easily. The profit to made on gambling is a finite amount that keeps shrinking as people move out of this state. Now, if the governor can somehow permit video gaming machines in racetracks, let him not waste any time. He's got much bigger problems on his plate than this.

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21One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I love it Marcus57!

Especially since you included the part where the guy is walking away laughing at him - that they were sitting next to a millionaire the whole time. . . in fact - they were sitting next to a millionaire the whole time.

They just weren't smart enough to recognize it.

This is a set of investor's spending their own money to try something. When was the last time you spent your own money to take a chance on anything that would make the area better (and make yourself some money in the process)? My guess is probably never.

We need to recognize these peoples efforts and support them - not sit and smugly laugh at the millionaires next to us.

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22arteesto(22 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

In 2009, 4 CASINOS were voted on and approved by the people of Ohio for Casino development in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. To date, construction has not begun on any of them.
The people of Columbus do not want a casino in Columbus, so the license to build a casino in Columbus can be transfered to Youngstown. A matter of formality by the Ohio Attorney General.
The developers behind the proposal of a race track/slots etc. in Youngstown will encounter many road blocks and it will end up that a resolution initiative will have to be put on this Novembers state wide ballot and voted on and passed by the people of Ohio.
Take the SURE FIRE WAY INITIATIVE to get a casino plus in Youngstown Rick Lertzman.
Contact the Columbus developers who have the license to build a casino in Columbus to bring their Casino development license to Youngstown and be a part of your initiative...Then you can say...IT WILL BE A SURE BET TO GET A CASINO IN YOUNGSTOWN...GUARANTEED!

Pat M....Casino Guy

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23One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago


Clearly you didn't read the legislation that we all voted on when the 4 casino deal with the devil was made.

Your statement that "The people of Columbus do not want a casino in Columbus, so the license to build a casino in Columbus can be transfered to Youngstown. A matter of formality by the Ohio Attorney General. " is just simply not correct.

The legislation lists parcel numbers in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton. These are the equivalent of a street address. These are the only places that casinos are allowed to be built. These can not be transferred to Youngstown or even to another area of Columbus, whether the people of Columbus want it or not. This is exactly why this steaming pile of legislation was such a bad idea in the first place. Unfortunately people only saw the words legal casino, started drooling all over themselves to get them and voted for it.

I am not against casino gambling by any means, but we shot ourselves in the foot by voting for this law. These are not like liquor licenses that can just be re-assigned when one is no longer used. We in Youngstown are now screwed unless they change the law (which entails another vote) to allow any of the 4 licenses to go somewhere else.

No administrative wave of the wand is going to fix this crappy situation we the voters have created for ourselves.

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24JME(802 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

"...unless they change the law (which entails another vote) to allow any of the 4 licenses to go somewhere else."

Correct. In fact, there was a location change for the Columbus casino which was on the ballot last spring - which passed.

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25ojanet22(134 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Horse racing is a cruel sport.

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