A casino with 500 slot machines and 15 to 20 table games, restaurants, a sports bar and sports betting are part of the vision. The route plans call for a meadow of grass, not an unpaved surface, similar to Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Kentucky. A meadow of grass, Jackson said, would make the land usable for more than just the 12 to 15 days of racing.
CER is working with the state racing committee and the riders on a strategy for how a successful, profitable short season get-together can be carried out around the longer get-togethers in Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island.
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For now, the future Columbus racing season appears to stay in late summer and early fall, overlapping part of the Lincoln meeting. Running in conjunction with Lincoln would allow riders to run in both locations but rely primarily on Lincoln and its stable space. Columbus has more of a boutique approach to horse care than long-term stays in stables.
Who pays what, how much and for how long are all the details currently being sorted out?
CER can invest in the project, but this matter is also part of the current negotiations the group is having with potential operators. The construction of the line is fully funded by CER, as far as he can confirm.
"Structuring reward programs, structuring debt, negotiating debt, negotiating equity, contract length … these things take time, and that's why my life has been so hectic," said Jackson. "We're trying to make sure it's done right on our side."