‘Racino’ plans still on track

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The principal parties applying for a proposed $30 million race track and casino, “racino,” in Tucumcari will be introduced to the community later this month, said Warren Frost, a Logan attorney and executive director of the Quay County Gaming Authority.

Plans are under way for the group to apply for a license in February from the New Mexico Gaming Commission, Frost said.

“I think people in the community will be pleased with the application. I think we are going to be able to file a great application,” Frost said.

The racino initiative first took hold when the municipalities of Tucumcari, Logan and San Jon agreed last year to form a Quay County Gaming Authority.

The authority has an option to purchase 250 acres on I-40 between the exits for Mountain Road and Tucumcari Boulevard. The greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp. spent $40,000 for the land option.

Last September, the municipalities gave up their majority ownership in the project and agreed to give 91 percent of the authority’s ownership over to a management team.

In May 2006, the authority agreed to negotiate with the management team of Friedmutter, Inc. and the Navegante Group of Las Vegas, Nev.

It’s possible for Tucumcari and others to apply for a license because the state renewed its gaming compacts with Indian tribes in 2006 and the agreement opened the gate for one additional racino to be added to the state’s existing five.

Already at the gate competing for the license are Raton and the Pojoaque Pueblo in Santa Fe with each hoping to revive racing interests in their respective cities, Frost said.

In addition, Paul Blanchard, president of the Downs at Albuquerque, has applied to move the Downs to Moriarity to a proposed $65 million facility. At the racing commission’s June 2007 meeting, the commissioners agreed to table the matter.

The commission is not expected to review the applications until a study is completed on the effect the racino at Hobbs has had on the racing industry, Frost said. The Zia Racetrack and Black Gold Casino are in Hobbs.

Although Tucumcari is not a city with a large population, Frost said its location on I-40, its intersection with Highway 54 and proximity to Amarillo, Texas both bode well for a racino.

The meeting to introduce the management team and other players putting together the application for Tucumcari will be at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 30 at the Tucumcari Convention Center.