The revival of Colonial Downs is closer than ever, here’s a look at the progress
NEW KENT, Va. — It has been nearly six years since horses last raced through the finish line at Colonial Downs.
The last race was held in 2013. One year later, the 300-acre property shut down.
That’s all going to change soon. When you step through the gates of Colonial Downs today, you’ll find crews hard at work bringing horse racing and betting back to New Kent County.
John Marshall, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Colonial Downs said its return is a tremendous revolution for the industry.
“The support has been tremendous and we’re overwhelmed, humbled, and we can’t wait to live up to the hype,” said Marshall.
Outside, the one-and-a-half-mile-long track will be renovated this Spring.
The horses will make their way through the finish line in August 2019. Inside of the large facility on Monday, crews were laying down carpet at Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, a sign the new off-track betting facility is close to being completed. Its doors will open in April 2019.
Aaron Gomes, Chief Operating Officer at Colonial Downs, said the legislation made it possible to bring horse racing back.
“Colonial Downs is obviously the anchor in why we’re here: for the horse racing and Rosie’s. They’re essentially our satellite wagering facilities that will have historical horse racing games throughout the commonwealth,” said Gomes.
The revival of Colonial Downs, the second largest race track in the country after Belmont Park in New York, will bring economic growth to the community.
“New Kent doesn’t have any hotels in the entire county, so that’s just one example of what we’re expecting when this opens. Economic development in the region, hotels and new restaurants as more visitors come from outside New Kent County,” said Gomes.
The $300 million investment will create 800 jobs and generate $25 million annually in state taxes.
Matthew Smolnik, New Kent County Director of Economic Development said the local economy suffered when Colonial Downs closed back in 2014.
“Having lost Colonial Downs a couple of years ago, it was sad. [I] drove by this track a couple of times a day, closed gates. Now, to have it back? I tell people every once in a while you get your singles and your doubles, but every once in a while you get your grand slam, and this was definitely it,” said Smolnik.