Racino builders ask Ohio Racing Commission to reconsider plan - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Racino builders ask Ohio Racing Commission to reconsider plan

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - The company planning to sink millions of dollars into a racino in Austintown is asking the Ohio Racing Commission to reconsider its design for the complex.

"The biggest concern for us of course, is to hit that window that we can start construction before incurring any delays from the winter and so we think now is the time. If there's going to be a compromise, we've got to get to it quickly," said Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs for Penn National.

The commission denied Penn National's proposal for Hollywood Mahoning Valley Racecourse last month.

At its meeting Tuesday, the commission agreed to meet with the company to review ways it can meet the criteria needed for approval.

Penn National says its current design is in line with other markets similar in size to the Valley.

The company provided commissioners with a snapshot of how many race viewing seats are available for fans at other comparable tracks across the country.

Just how many seats should be installed at the Austintown site has been and remains the focal point of why the commission has yet to approve its racing license transfer.

Both parties admit focusing on a number of seats is taking away from the ultimate goal of preserving the sport while offering the best fan experience.

"In an effort to get the seat count up, we lost the box seats, we lost the track view, tabletop seating," said Mark Munroe, Ohio Racing commissioner.

Munroe told Penn National officials that he hoped the company would continue the conversation with the commission so that can find "something that makes sense".

A meeting between the company and commission is expected to take place in the near future. Munroe indicated the commission is open minded to sitting down with the company to find a solution, which would prevent Penn National from going back to square one.

The original start date for construction was intially planned for the first week in April. Now, Penn National is hoping it can get its Austintown project shovel ready before the summer construction season ends.

The $250 million racino project is expected to bring not only boast construction jobs, but also 1,000 racino jobs.

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