The Ohio Racing Commission agreed Wednesday to allow Penn National to move forward with plans to build a racino in Austintown.
Penn National Gaming and the commission met in Columbus Wednesday morning where the final plans were approved to build the Hollywood at Mahoning Valley Race Course near Route 46 and the I-80 interchange in Austintown. A license transfer from Beulah Park, near Columbus, to Austintown has been approved.
Austintown Township Trustee Jim Davis said he relieved with the decision and is excited for the future of Austintown Township.
“I’m just so excited to have this coming to Austintown,” said Davis. “Just all the spin offs and jobs and everything it means to the township. It’s a beautiful day in Austintown.”
Penn National wanted to build the racino in three phases, but the commission decided they needed to begin with phase two and Penn National agreed.
“We were agreeable to that compromise, knowing this could move the project forward and thankful to finally be at the end of the finish line to get the shovels back in the ground,” said Eric Schippers with Penn National Gaming.
The revised plans for phase two include at least 1,001 live racing seats, dormitories for jockeys and a larger stable area.
“The commission is going to get the minimum required number of seats we think are necessary for a horse meet in the Valley,” said board member Mark Munroe. “The horsemen are getting their appropriate amount of barns and stalls, so they can have the facilities to properly run a proper race meet.”
The latest revisions were the third set of plans Penn National had submitted to the commission for review. The two sides met six times between March 12 and May 1.
In the final resolution, the commission stipulated that Penn National must agree in writing to complete the first two phases of their proposed construction plan and that document must be received by the commission by June 15. Penn National must also notify the commission when construction of those phases is complete and the $75 million relocation fee must be paid. At that time, all permits to hold horse racing will be re-issued.
The resolution also states the commission has the right to impose additional conditions as they deem necessary.
Developers said even though the project is about five weeks behind schedule, they hope to begin construction in the next few days and open the facility as planned next year.