Chalmers, partners add horsepower to racino plans

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Tucumcari’s horsepower for a race track and casino was announced on Wednesday.

The major player and majority stock holder in Tucumcari’s bid for a race track and casino is Rio Rancho businessman and car dealer Don Chalmers.

Chalmers and principals of a management team that plan to put together an application to the state gaming and horse racing agencies spoke to about 200 people at the Tucumcari Convention Center.

“This is a No. 1 prospect … If we get a license, there will be $40 million in capital expenditures in Quay County to build what needs to be built,” said Chalmers, who described himself as a car dealer and developer of businesses.

That investment does not include other investors who would be attracted to the area because of the economic momentum, Chalmers said.

In addition, about 300 permanent jobs will be created, Chalmers said.

Chalmers said he was investing in the proposed casino and race track, sometimes called a “racino,” to get a return on his investment and for Quay County. “I know we’ll be successful in those goals,” he said.

Chalmers said he has established Coronado Partners, a New Mexico limited liability corporation, to own and operate the race track and casino.

Other players are:
l David Vance, president of the Vance Group, from Oklahoma City, Okla., who would manage the racetrack operations. He is the former vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs and Remington Park in Oklahoma.

If Tucumcari is awarded the license, Vance said he planned to move to Tucumcari.

l Larry D. Woolf, president of the Navegante Group of Las Vegas, Nev., would manage the casino operation. Earlier this year, he was approved to operate eight casinos in Nevada by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

l Brad Friedmutter is founder and CEO of the Friedmutter Group of Las Vegas, which specializes in casino, restaurant and entertainment venues. The Friedmutter Group is the project’s architect.

The Quay County Gaming Authority was created about a year ago to put together a team to apply for a sixth license that was made available with the advent of new gaming compacts made last year with Indian tribes.

The authority represents Quay County, Tucumcari and the villages of Logan and San Jon. The plan for a racino in Tucumcari, however, first surfaced in the spring of 2004 when Gov. Bill Richardson suggested to a few residents that they explore the idea of landing a casino and race track in Tucumcari for economic development.

Tucumcari is about 110 miles from Amarillo on I-40. It’s planned gaming operations are expected to draw from nearby Texas urban areas and the traffic along I-40.
There are five racinos in the state: the Downs at Albuquerque, Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, Ruidoso Downs/Billy the Kid Casino, SunRay Park and Casino near Farmington, and Zia Park Racetrack/Black Gold Casino in Hobbs.

In addition to Tucumcari, there are three other groups vying for the license, according to news reports. They are Horse Racing at Raton, the Pojoaque Publeo in Santa Fe and a proposed move of the Downs at Albuquerque to a new $65 million racino in Moriarty.
Other investors will be sought for the Tucumcari project, Chalmers said.

Lawrence P. Tombari, president of the development division of the Friedmutter Group, said he thought the ownership group would stand well in Santa Fe, and that a good team had been put together to apply for the license.

The Friedmutter Group has been retained by the Quay County Gaming Authority for its design expertise and to help in the application process.

The group expects to file its application with the state by March 30, according to Warren Frost, a Logan attorney and executive director of the Quay County Gaming Authority.