Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By David Grieder
Eastern New Mexico News 

Race on for racino

Tucumcari, Clovis expected to file applications.


May 9, 2018

CLOVIS — As the state starts accepting applications for its sixth racino license, eastern New Mexico will have at least two horses in the race.

Projects proposed for Tucumcari and Clovis will be among those competing for the state’s last available racino license, with an award selection expected by the end of 2018.

The New Mexico Racing Commission on Monday began accepting applications for the state’s sixth and final horse racing and casino license, a process expected to last at least through the summer.

Applications are due by July 30, and per statute will be subject to comment from the state’s Native American tribes as well as a town-hall style meeting in each community, NMRC Executive Director Izzy Trejo said.

Trejo said the decision to solicit new applications came out of recent interest from “a handful of different entities,” though he declined to get into specifics.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” he said on Friday, noting it was still “a tough thing to gauge” until applications actually arrive.

Applications are $5,000 each.

On Clovis’ east side, Laguna Development Corp. and Miller Companies have joint designs for the “Curry Downs Racetrack and Casino.”

Plans are described in a website established three years ago, after LDC completed a market study finding the location to have “a high probability for success,” according to its chief of sales and marketing.

“According to the market study at that time, there’s a real desire amongst a good percentage of the population that live there for some other types of entertainment, whether it’s horse racing, off-track betting, restaurants, casino, or a lounge of some kind,” Skip Sayre said. “And a high percentage of business would come out of Texas.”

Warren Frost represents the Quay County Gaming Authority, a group promoting a race track for the area for more than a decade. Frost’s group applied for a racino license in 2008, but lost out to Raton, although that project folded from lack of finances. The QCGA has since combined with the Tucumcari/Quay County Economic Development Corporation, also representing San Jon and Logan.

“(B)asically the last eight years, we’ve been hoping that the Racing Commission would make a determination to open this up again,” Frost said last week. “Now that they’ve done that we’re excited and ready to go.”

Quay County’s vision is for a racetrack and casino on a location by Interstate 40 and Route 66.

“The only place (another New Mexico) track makes sense is along the Texas border,” Frost said. “So we’re certainly optimistic. We think the only competition we’re going to have is Clovis.”

Both Sayre and Frost said they were confident of the financing for their projects, a concern stressed by Trejo after the collapse of the Raton project from lack of funds.

Whatever entity is awarded, the ensuing racetrack would be subject to an annual review and required to conduct at least 17 days of racing annually.

The Quay County Gaming Authority, which has since merged with the EDC, applied for the racino license in 2008 but lost to Raton. The Raton project eventually collapsed from lack of funds, but Frost said he hasn’t been able to visit the grocery story the past 10 years without someone reminding him of continued hopes for the racino license.

Frost said he was fully confident of financial backing for the project estimated at $75 million, which is expected to bring 330 full-time employees and 650 during racing season after the racino is completed in 2021. A temporary casino with 150 slot machines would ease the transition, with 600 machines ultimately. It was one of the best opportunities available to help revitalize a community dwindling in industry and population, Frost said.

“Ideally, we’d like for Apple to come in here and bring a thousand employees, but we’re trying to be realistic,” Frost said. “I’m proud of my little community, the way they’ve come out and supported this.”

Frost said Coronado Partners LLC., is currently in the process of obtaining a new managing partner to replace Don Chalmers.

Chalmers who passed away in 2014 was the managing partner that planned to build a complex that would include a racetrack, casino and hotel on property in Tucumcari.


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