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Local cooperation lauded at launch of Austintown's racino

Published: Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.


Celebrating the beginning of work at the Austintown racino site are, from left: Tim Wilmott of Penn National Gaming; state Rep. Tom Letson of Warren, D-63rd; Don Crane, president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council; Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler; Austintown Trustee Jim Davis; state Rep. Ron Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th; Eric Schippers, Penn National senior vice president of public affairs; state Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th; and Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.




The $125 million Hollywood at Mahoning Valley Race Course promises 1,000 construction jobs and an additional 1,000 permanent jobs when it is completed next year.

Politicians, elected officials, community leaders and business people gathered Thursday at the site off state Route 46 for the formal “racino” groundbreaking.

Standing on the rocks and stone, speakers and guests put shovels to dirt. But behind them, heavy equipment already was working on creating the actual foundation of the site.

“We’re pushing dirt already,” said Jason Jones, general manager of Cleveland-based construction manager Turner Construction. “We’ve been going for a couple of months now. Progress is going very well. We’re right on schedule.”

“There’s a dozen [people] out there now excavating with more to come with the other contractors,” said Carlton Ingram of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Youngstown. Ingram said the construction work at the racino will spur more developments in his trade and in others.

“There will be spin-off jobs. This is going to be the anchor for the area with other substantial developments like hotels and restaurants,” Ingram said. “It’s like we have a second chance. If you know anything about the Valley, it’s that we don’t quit. We’re coming back.”

“We are cutting the ribbon for progress in the Mahoning Valley,” said state Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, one of the first to put a shovel in the dirt. Hagan said the concerted efforts of businesses and politicians have brought the project to this point.

“There are opportunities that have existed here for many years, but because of collaboration, we’re bringing it together,” Hagan said.

The project, at Austintown’s Centerpointe Business Park, will bring gaming and thoroughbred racing to the Mahoning Valley when it opens in 2014, featuring a video lottery terminal facility and a one-mile state-of-the-art racetrack.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, said locally elected officials at the township, county and state level were integral to the success of the project.

“We have a lot of small things done very well. This day is the natural extension of us all working together,” said Ryan.

Ryan added that the racino is part of a larger effort to revive the Valley.

“We don’t have all our eggs in one basket. It’s the racino, it’s additive manufacturing, it’s energy, it’s research,” said Ryan. “But this racino has more buzz about it in our community than anything else.”

The art deco concept at Hollywood at Mahoning Valley Race Course will be similar to Hollywood casinos in Columbus and Toledo.

The racetrack grandstand will feature more than 1,000 enclosed, climate-controlled seats with racetrack views, a wagering facility, and food and beverage options.

In addition to the $125 million in construction costs, Penn National will pay Ohio a $50 million fee for its video lottery terminal license and an additional $75 million it agreed to pay for permission to relocate the racing license for its existing Beulah Park racetrack in Grove City, bringing the company’s total investment to $250 million.

“It’s a $75 million address change,” said Tim Wilmott, chief operating officer of Penn National. Wilmott said the demographics of the Mahoning Valley suited Penn National’s market assessment.

“We viewed this population as an underserved market in the state of Ohio,” said Wilmott. “So that’s why we felt very confident relocating here.”

Legislation approved in 2012 will provide Austintown Township with $1 million in local impact funds in each of the facility’s first two years of operation, and local governments in the region will benefit from additional local income and property-tax revenues.

“The jobs and business opportunities we’ll be creating here ... will have a long-lasting, beneficial impact on this community and this region. It is the beginning of what we foresee as a new era of economic development for the Mahoning Valley,” added Wilmott.

Austintown Trustee Jim Davis said the ceremony marked a great day for Austintown.

“Austintown always seems to get pushed aside when it comes to projects. For once, Austintown is finally being recognized for the great community it is,” said Davis.

“People are getting excited to have a place to go. This is just the beginning of many great things to come,” he added.

“We worked on this project for a long time. It’s great to see it come to fruition,” said David Ditzler, Mahoning County commissioner and former township trustee. “Whenever I see anyone anywhere, the question that comes to me is, ‘When are we opening the racino?’”

TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaborative effort among the Youngstown State University journalism program, Kent State University, University of Akron and professional media outlets WYSU-FM Radio, The Vindicator, The Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio, both of Akron.


1isaac45(411 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

and we're off...

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2biggee(43 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

We're? Bob hagan taking credit for the racino? I think he was protesting ( fill in the blank) when the real work was being done to land this facility. Thanks to all who did land this huge asset for the valley. As an aside heard bob on radio yesterday talking up how "we" found the shale gas and oil. Ha doesn't he know he is on record for being totally against it and protesting the fracking of the wells....jeeezzz bob please.

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3chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Again Governor John Kasich was the key to getting the racinos off the ground by developing a plan to permit slots. Sure were quite a few politicians who grabbed face time, but did nothing like little timmy and the Letson and Hagan comedy team.

Thanks Governor and keep up the good work

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4BigJim2234(57 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

They are all at every ribbon cutting. Traficianti?

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5valleyred(1103 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Bob Hagan taking credit for this when we heard nothing out of his mouth the past 2 years regarding this is quite humorous. Shouldn't he be worried about pleasing Ohio's potheads?

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6republicanRick(1731 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

JUST ANNOUNCED !! Bob Hagan has just learned that race horses expel a lot of "poo" around the track!
Bob is now alleging the poo will "poison our water" and "pollute our air" and innocent people will die as a result!!

Stay tuned --

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7lovethevalley2(2 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Shouldn't my dad Pat Mackondy have been a member of the RACINO ground breaking picture? He worked so diligently and continuously for years and never stopped trying to get a casino/racino in the Valley. Check with Skolnick and the Y-town media over the past 20 years. Pat Mackondy never stopped trying and promoting casino development...and now it's finally happening...the RACINO will be a full scale Las Vegas Casino in just a few years...guaranteed.

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8Jake(112 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Community after community build casinos, and they all think they're going to have sustained economic growth as a result.

Casinos in Vegas work because tourists come there. When the casinos just cater to locals, it's the economic equivalent of washing each others' laundry. People aren't booking 3 hour flights to come to Austintown.

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9lovethevalley2(2 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

It will be the most successful casino/racino in the country. They won't have to depend on tourists to survive. People driving from a hundred mile radius will keep them at capacity ALL THE TIME!

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10redeye1(5657 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

@Jake, you are right ! But as long as the slot machines accepts EBT cards or they have a way to get cash from their EBT cards to play the machines this racino will prosper Just watch !!!!!

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11biggee(43 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Could the vail finally be coming off the do nothing politicos that manage to keep them selves in the news and getting reelected in this valley? Now of course a certain radio talk host in the afternoon carries the water for hagan, still trying to figure why. We will not move ahead till some pay better attention whom they pull the lever for( opps telling my age) fill in the oval for. When the image of your representative protesting is the only one you remember....change your rep.

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Neither did the animals that were displaced to build it.

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