The New York Racing Association is looking to build new horse racing facilities at Belmont Park — and a majority of voters support the idea, according to a new poll.
Global Strategy Group conducted the poll, which asked 1,141 New York State voters about the issue, and found that 51% have “ a favorable opinion of horse racing in New York.”
The survey comes after Anna Kaplan, the state senator representing the area that covers Belmont Park, introduced a bill to “authorize the New York Racing Association, Inc. to enter into a repayment agreement with the state of New York for payment of bonds issued by the state for the renovation of Belmont Park.”
The project would finance a reconstruction of Belmont Park through state-backed bonds, which would “be entirely self-funded, with no cost to taxpayers,” according to the “We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition,” which helped conduct the poll.
On Long Island, where Belmont Park is located, 66% of the 100 voters surveyed said they are “favorable towards horse racing in the state.”
The bill would help usher the construction of a new grandstand and clubhouse, while replacing the main racetrack and adding three new tracks for horse racing.
“Constructing a new Belmont Park will create jobs for New Yorkers, expand economic opportunity on Long Island, and drive tourism throughout the region,” said Jack Sterne, a rep with the PR firm SKDKnick, and a spokesperson for the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition.
“That’s why New Yorkers here on Long Island and across the state overwhelmingly support this transformative economic development project. This year, our coalition is ready to crisscross New York to make the case that a new Belmont Park is a win for our economy, for our state, and for all New Yorkers.”
Belmont Park is largely known for its role as the home of the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown — where the best horses compete in a high-stakes race for supremacy.
The bill, which is currently in committee in the state senate, would allow the “New York Racing Association, Inc. to enter into a repayment agreement with the state of New York for payment of bonds issued by the state for the renovation of Belmont Park.”
“From backstretch workers to security guards, from small businesses in Nassau County to farms across upstate, the economic impact of horse racing is massive, especially on Long Island — and New Yorkers are taking notice,” said Luis Vazquez, President and CEO of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition.
“Three-quarters of Long Islanders support building a new, state-of-the-art Belmont Park because it would generate more jobs, more tax revenue, and more economic activity for Nassau County. This goal is within reach — and our coalition is ready to make the case directly to lawmakers this session.”
First built in 1905, Belmont Park has been a staple of horse racing in New York State.
According to the poll, 74% of New Yorkers, and 76% of Long Islanders believe that the state government should “support horse racing” in the Empire State, while 68% of New York voters, and 75% of Long Island voters, said they would support the Belmont bond issue.
The bill was introduced on May 4, and has a long way to go towards its passage, but the “We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition” has clearly made strides in convincing the voters who would be directly affected by the project.