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Racino work begins in Austintown

Published: Wed, January 9, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.


A sign marks land being cleared by Turner Construction Co. for the Austintown racino, slated to be finished in 2014. Though Penn National Gaming Inc., owners of the property, can clear the land, construction is being held up by approval of a transfer of license from the Ohio Racing Commission.




The site is being cleared for a thoroughbred racetrack and casino, but construction is still on hold as owners wait for the proper permits and licenses on local and state levels.

The Ohio Racing Commission has still not given Penn National Gaming Inc. approval for the transfer of its racing license, currently active at the Beulah Park facility in Grove City, to the future Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown.

“We’re ready to go in terms of construction,” said Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for Penn National. “But before we’re actually authorized, we need the state to approve the switch.”

Tenenbaum said there wasn’t a timeline on when the racing commission would make its decision, but the delay is based on racing-commission changes to the rules dealing with the transfer of the racing license.

What has been approved is a permit for a storm-water pollution-prevention plan, which was approved by the township zoning office in October. In November, the Mahoning County Planning Commission approved an assembly of parcels for the facility, which will be built on almost 194 acres between state Routes 46 and 11, near Interstate 80.

In April, Penn National paid approximately $4.6 million for the land and is spending roughly $250 million to relocate the racino.

Meaningful construction — meaning foundation and continued earth work — is set to start this spring.

“Weather is our only obstacle for construction right now,” said Norm Nelms, vice president of design and construction for Penn National.

The facility will be about 100,000 square feet with a 50,000-square-foot gaming area. Along with a food court and sports bar, 150 indoor “grandstand style” seats will be put in, Nelms said. About 800 to 1000 permanent jobs are estimated to be created from the racino, along with the approximately 800 to 1000 construction jobs, according to Nelms.

As far as the local construction permit, Darren Crivelli, Austintown zoning inspector, said it’s hard to tell when the application and permit will come through.

“We do expect the permit to come through in the first quarter of the year,” Crivelli said. “This is all a process that will take us right up to the opening.”

As far as public comment, Penn National has held public hearings and Crivelli’s office has received phone calls, but opposition to the project has largely dissipated.

“Most of what I’ve been hearing is, ‘Is this really going to happen?’” Crivelli said. “Because people in this community have been burned before. But others are asking who they can contact about sending a resume.”

Next for the racino is a community outreach event Jan. 17, sponsored by Penn National, Turner Construction Co. and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. The event — from 4 to 6 p.m. at Ciminero’s Banquet Centre in Niles — is geared toward local businesses looking to discuss bid opportunities for concrete, structural steel, site cut and fill and site utilities.

“The goal is to get as much local participation as possible,” Tenenbaum said.

The concern over casino revenues is not impacting the Austintown construction, Tenenbaum said, considering the adjusted gross revenue for Hollywood Toledo and Horseshoe Cleveland went up in December, countering a downturn in revenue in November.

“We sort of expected numbers to drop in Columbus because it’s still in the grand opening stage, where people were coming because they were just curious about it,” Tenenbaum said.

Penn National is also working to transfer the license for Hollywood Toledo to a new facility in Dayton.


1georgejeanie(1538 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Great another place for people to lose their hard earned pay check or their not earned welfare check. Good ol Youngstown and accompanying area. This way GM and V and M employess can stop on the way home and lose their pay checks. The state gets their share and Penn National stockholders are happy too.

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2thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

george, some people from around here enjoy a night out and like to go to Mountaineer. Now they dont have to drive as far, and can save some gas.
They are going to go anyway, might as well go closer to home.

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3UNCOMMONSENSE(626 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@georgejeanie...it is my money, I worked for it, therefore I should be able to spend it how I wish.

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4GoPens(397 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Will provide jobs and a source of entertainment, although I do believe the area is becoming over saturated with casinos. They will start cannibalizing each other before long.

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5MrRight(28 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Ya you're right georgejeanie, lets do away with anything people can spend their money on. Let's close bars, make it illegal for people to drive to Mountaineer and waste their money at another location that doesn't benefit our area and close all of the internet games that are in the area as well. It's called self control. Let's also ignore the fact that 1,000 jobs will be created as well as a 1,000 temporary jobs of construction. Let's just pass on all of the taxes it will create and increase of other businesses that will beneift. Way to go with the old Youngstown mentality that we don't want anything here. The steel mills are closed and we must move on. Get over it.

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6TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Having a premier tourist destination the caliber of mountaineer will definitely be a feather in our cap. I can see people flocking from all over to enjoy all the amenities of our area.

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7DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Hurry up with the payoffs, kickbacks and "greasing of palms" already and build the darn thing.

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8harleydog(243 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

georgejeanie, your mentality is why this area is stil living in the past. i work for my money and will spend it the way i want. whether it is at a casino, amusement park, local fair or festival or on a brand new car. this is how business is created and taxes are paid. it benefits everyone.

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9TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The lot lizards should see a spike in business

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10mim1237(7 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

What ever happened to accountability for our own actions. Casinos, Racinos do not hold a gun to people's heads and force them to go there. That is a choice adults make on their own. Just like bars do not create alcoholism, McDonalds does not make people fat, and guns do not kill people on their own. People make those decisions and carry out those decisions. People are RESPONSIBLE for their actions. Its time we quit blaming everyone else for the dumb things we do. If you work for a living you have the right to decide where and when to spend it. As far as the lot lizards, I am hoping the Racino draws a an audience that will not support their choice of careers.

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11Scarecrow031(1 comment)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

I just hope that the new rasino hires local people and not outsiders.Alot of people could use another minimum wage job.Right everybody!?

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