Racino construction shows visible progress

By kalea hall



A 1-mile racetrack is laid out, and steel beams are up on the approximately 100,000-square-foot clubhouse for the $125 million Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course.

More than 190 acres of the site off state Route 46 are being used for the construction.

“Getting the building enclosed is a key point,” said Randy Painter, project executive for Turner Construction Co. of Cleveland.

The construction process began months before the ground-breaking ceremony for the race course at the end of May. By the end of July, the footers for the foundation of the clubhouse were poured. Now, the clubhouse beams are in place featuring 879 tons of steel.

“We are getting ready to start our exterior wall,” Painter said, pointing to contractors’ race against the coming onslaught of winter.

There are four levels to the building, including lower-level seating, a main floor, a spectator level and the officials’ level.

The 1-mile thoroughbred racetrack is nearly complete. Finishing the racetrack early was essential to make sure there are no “soft” areas that need more work, Painter said. A retention pond was placed in the center of the track.

“In a thoroughbred racetrack like this, the curves and embankments have to be perfect,” Painter said.

In fact, GPS coordinates were actually given to make sure the track was precise, Painter said.

In addition to the track and clubhouse, seven racing buildings and a dormitory building are scheduled to be constructed in the spring and summer. Michael Coates Construction of Niles will build the dormitory, and The Adolph Johnson and Son Co. of Mineral Ridge will construct the racing buildings.

Design continues for the 12 horse barns, though a company has yet to be selected to build them. Overall, there will be room for more than 880 horses.

“[Overall], the project is going very well,” Painter said.

What water source the racino will use has been an ongoing topic since Youngstown’s Mayor Charles Sammarone proposed a Joint Economic Development District in early July. A JEDD allows a city to provide water services and other infrastructure to the township.

The city is allowed to tax those services. Income tax from the employees of the racino also would be collected and shared between Youngstown and Austintown.

Sammarone has said a JEDD would benefit both communities, but Austintown trustees oppose taxing Penn National Inc., the company bringing in the racino.

Penn National is providing $1 million for infrastructure improvements for 2014 and 2015, and then $500,000 each year as long as the racino remains open.

From the beginning of the project, Penn National has looked at many options to supply water to the racetrack and casino.

Other facilities the company owns operate on well water, which is also an option for the Austintown site, said Bob Tenenbaum, Penn National spokesman.

“There are still some final tests that need to be run,” said Tenenbaum. “We are very hopeful that we will be able to provide our own water.”

Before any final decisions are made on well water, additional testing will be done to ensure the water is high quality and there is enough of it to support the racino.

“Obviously you have to make sure you have sufficient quantity and quality,” Tenenbaum said.

The city of Niles also offered its water services at no cost, but the city would have to run water lines.

“Whatever we can do to help,” said Neil Buccino, Niles service director. “The offer is out there.”

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