All You Need to Know About the Racetrack in Lancaster


The concept plan for the proposed racetrack

Grace Fiori , Senior Editor

Over the summer there was quite an uproar made in Lancaster when proposed plans for a $30 – $40 million “Thoroughbred Racetrack” were put before the Lancaster Board of Selectmen.

The site is proposed to be on 350 acres of the 435 acres of land that Capital Group Properties is currently under agreement to be purchased from North Lancaster LLC.

The racetrack, which is near the route 2/ route 70 interchange and I – 90, would operate from around 12 PM to 6 PM on race days, with racing season from late spring to late fall. Most racetracks hold at least 30 races per season.

The facility itself would house around 500 horses and would employ around 100 people during events, with additional employees for maintenance and stables.

While events would only be held during the racing season, the track would continue to be open year round for simulecast wagering, which is off-track betting on races.

The possibility of such a large complex poses questions on the strain that Lancaster and the surrounding towns would face with heavy traffic flow, pressure to provide services, environmental strains, and also if Lancaster stands to really gain from allowing such construction.

Even on non- racing days a full time 24 hour fire detail is required for housing 50 or more horses, and a police detail during events at the track. The track would also require a full service alcohol license, which could be complicated in a dry town like Lancaster.

Private sewer and water systems would be built, but questions arise about the strain on the water table large construction could cause for surrounding areas, especially because part of the land is classified as wetland.

However, there seems to be some favor when it comes to revenue that Lancaster could stand to make from real estate taxes, personal property taxes, host fees, and possibly more.

Tom Ritvo, the chief operating officer for the racing division of the Stronach Group, said during the informational meeting in July that the Stronach Group would contribute $4 million combined in both annual tax revenue, and also aid in funding police and fire services and paying state taxes. 

Supporters of the racetrack also argue that this would benefit local horse breeding and care companies, as well as farmers supplying hay and grains to support possibly more than 500 horses.

Most seem to think that traffic will not be dramatically affected, but because only 100 acres of the 350 acre property will be utilized for the horse track, possible suggestions have also been made to put in retail space, a commercial area, and even a hotel, called the Capital Commerce Center. This would surely shift the population traveling to and from.

The Lancaster Selectmen held only an informational session in July, and no decision making has been made following whether the plan will be approved. For now, no further meetings have been planned to move ahead in the process.