Will this be the key that finally unlocks the door to financial success for Remington Park?
On Oct. 15, the new owners, Global Gaming Solutions, unveiled their plans to the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission as they applied to renew the facility's racing license with the state.
Both the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association and the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association have endorsed the new owners " a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation " and their plans. The Horse Racing Commission will vote on the matter at the Nov. 19 meeting.
When Global Gaming purchased the track this summer, company officials said they would invest as much as $12 million into Remington. The new owners believe the track has been neglected for several years.
"Remington Park has been allowed to run down, so there needs to be a focus on the restoration of amenities and appearance at Remington Park that will attract people back to the facility," Global Gaming CEO John Elliott said before last week's meeting.
The restoration aspect includes replacing all of the facility's television sets with flat-screen monitors, remodeling the corporate boxes, replacing the carpeting in high-traffic areas, replacing and painting the building's facade and signage, and modernizing the heating and air conditioning unit.
Elliott told the commission the latter item needs to be zoned at different areas of the park, instead of having one unit serving the entire facility.
Along with the restoration, he said it's already time to replace many of the slot machines, which were just installed a couple of years ago. He said the gaming at Remington already has been surpassed by technology, and nearly half of the facility's 750 slots need to be replaced.
Because of the gaming laws, which went into effect after a statewide vote in 2004, Remington can only have 750 slot machines. But the games can still be upgraded to a higher classification.
"From a slot-machine perspective, we can do whatever we like, as long as we don't have more than 750 slot machines," Elliott said.
Unlike most of the Chickasaw Nation's other casinos around the state, like Riverwind near Norman and WinStar next to the Texas border on Interstate 35, Remington will not be allowed to have table games like blackjack or poker, due to the state's gaming laws. That is something Elliott said he would not mind having addressed.
"I'm sure we are going to explore what might be possible," he said. "But that's a game well outside our hands. We would not be adverse to the idea of legislation allowing more games and table games, but that's not our call."
One other aspect that may come about with the new ownership is a renewed effort to develop Remington's surrounding area. Elliott believes the location in the city's northeast quadrant could flourish as an adventure district.
"The facility also has a great location, which is on the springboard of being capitalized on, but has not been capitalized on to date, meaning surrounding Remington Park are other things for people to do," he said. "I think there is a situation there for how do you build up that side of the city to make it attractive.
"You have to make it easier for people to get there. There's been some talk of light rail from downtown to there. Maybe (you) need hotels and something on the retail front and the restaurant front. That requires us to work with the various constituents to see what can be achieved over time."
The park's renovations are scheduled to begin next year. "Scott Cooper