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Nebraska HBPA Ponders Life After 2012 in Lincoln

September 18, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

LINCOLN, NE September 18—Although its current venue will be absorbed into the University of Nebraska at Lincoln campus, Nebraska horse racing will survive because of the efforts of a forward-thinking coalition.

It might even thrive.

The Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association assumes responsibilities for managing the sport when the Nebraska State Fair moves to Grand Island in 2010. The group has an agreement to continue racing at State Fair Park through 2012, so the plan presented to state legislators on Thursday, September 18, proposes a new, expanded venue adjacent to and operated in conjunction with the university.

The new one-mile track, to be named Goldenrod Downs, is expected to be a significant improvement over the current 5/8-mile oval. The track will be only one component of the Nebraska Horse Park, which will house equine science facilities for the university and conduct horse-related activities for disabled people. The current Lancaster Events Center hosts several equine-related events throughout the year and would be a partner in the campus.

The group promoting the project, the Nebraska Horse Park Coalition Partners, includes the Nebraska HBPA, the Lancaster County Events Center, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and Sunrise Equitherapy, a physical therapy company.

Reporter Melissa Lee of the Lincoln Journal Star writes, “Still unknown were how much the project would cost—previous estimates for a new track have been about $50 million—and who would share the bill.

“The Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association could be responsible for as much as $18 million, [a] source said.

“Jerry Fudge, president of the 1,000-member Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protection Association, previously has advocated for horse racing to continue in Lincoln for the sake of fans, who made a strong showing at this year’s State Fair Park horse racing meet.

“And a mile-long track would allow for more national visibility, racing leaders have said.

“ Goldenrod Downs could offer additional space for UNL to expand its growing programs.

“The proposal ‘will allow the university to advance some of its priorities as well as to accommodate horse racing,’ Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. ‘And we can do all of this without significant financial implications for the university.

“‘The university’s not going to subsidize horse racing. But there are other activities which we may engage in that are important to us.’”