Monday, April 04, 2005

Magna’s plans for City of Dixon state-of-the-art racetrack progressing

Magna’s plans for Dixon track progressing

Magna Entertainment Corp.’s plans for a state-of-the-art racetrack in tiny Dixon, California continue to move forward.

A series of outreach meetings in the community, located 55 miles northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area, has just concluded with generally favorable reviews and Magna has ironed out agreements with local labor organizations in preparation for a possible start of construction in approximately one year.

"A draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be ready by the last week in April," said Don Erickson, former mayor of the town and Magna’s point man in Dixon. "That triggers a 30- to 60-day response period, so a final EIR should be ready by the end of September. We’d take the final proposal to the City Council in the first part of October."

Erickson said that if the plan was approved without any major changes, it would take approximately six months to get permits drawn and finalize agreements with contractors, meaning construction would start in the spring of 2006. He estimated that the first phase of the project, which includes the track, barns and all racetrack-related structures, would be completed in two years.

Dixon’s director of economic development, Marshall Drack, said that a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), a formal contract between a developer and a labor union, had been negotiated by Magna with local labor representatives.

If the tone of the five outreach meetings, each attended by 125-200 people, is an indication, approval should not be an issue.

"When we first introduced this at a meeting in 2001," Erickson noted, "things got a bit rancorous. But as local citizens found out the details of the project, it’s become much more acceptable."

Part of the education process for community leaders is a series of trips to Magna-operated facilities in other areas. City officials were set to tour Santa Anita Park over the weekend after visiting Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area and Gulfstream Park and the Palm Meadows training facility in South Florida. An excursion to Lone Star Park is also planned.

Drack also noted that Magna mentioned the possibility of hosting "a world-class event that could draw as many as 50,000 people to Dixon," but no contingency plan for that occurence — presumably the Breeders’ Cup— was addressed. — Jerry Klein Thoroughbred Times

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