License approval puts Austintown racino project back in motion - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

License approval puts Austintown racino project back in motion

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - It could take several days for construction to ramp back up, but work at the future site of a racino coming to Austintown is now a go.

The Ohio Racing Commission approved the transfer of a racing license for Penn National to operate its new complex coming to Route 46 at its meeting in Columbus Wednesday morning.

The approval comes after six meetings and a handful of new seating and horse stall designs, the center of the comission's concerns.

The topic of how many race viewing seats the Hollywood at Mahoning Valley Race Course would offer to patrons often sparked heated debates between commissioners and Penn National officials.

Now, local and state leaders are relieved the parties finally settled on a compromise of a little more than 1,000 seats to be ready and waiting on opening day.

"Both realized that they need each other, I mean, Penn needs the racing commission, because you have to have a track in order to have slot machines ... the racing commission needs Penn, because they're going to build a $150 million dollar facility," Senator Joe Schiavoni of Ohio's 33rd District said.

The economic impact is what the township is waiting for and in the coming months, Penn National plans to review applications for 1,000 racino jobs.

"We want to hire local. We want to use local vendors," Penn National spokesperson
Eric Schippers said.

In addition to jobs, a number of for sale and lease signs line Rt. 46 near the racino site off of I-80.

"With this being finalized today, I think you're going to see those properties be at a premium dollar," said Austintown Township trustee Jim Davis. "I think you're going to see those properties start to sell right away."

Davis said he doesn't have any details on any new tenants interested in moving into the area next.

As previously reported by 21 News in March, Davis announced spinoff activity would include at least one hotel. Davis said Candlewood Suites, an extended stay hotel, applied for zoning permits to build a location behind the Holiday Inn Express off of Rt. 46.

Davis said a second hotel is also interested in building in the township.

While the construction of the racino is a month behind schedule, Penn National is hoping it can still hit its original goal for opening next summer.

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