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Governor Hochul Provides Update on Belmont Park Modernization Project

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a project timeline and additional updates on the construction of new thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park, the Nassau County home of the Belmont Stakes. The New York Racing Association, which will oversee construction, released a series of architectural renderings to bring the project’s vision to life. Expected to be completed in Q3 of 2026, the multi-year project to build a new Belmont Park will generate $1 billion in construction-related economic impact and create 3,700 construction-related jobs. Following the return of thoroughbred racing to Belmont in 2026, additional racing and non-racing activities at the new facility will generate $155 million in annual economic output and produce $10 million in new state and local tax revenue per year. In 2023, Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget included a proposal for NYRA to modernize Belmont Park, and the FY2024 Enacted Budget granted that approval providing NYRA with a $455 million loan to build a world-class sports and entertainment destination in Elmont, New York.

“The redevelopment of Belmont Park is a critical investment in one of New York’s most historic sporting venues,” Governor Hochul said. “The new facility will support year-round racing, thousands of new jobs for Long Islanders and provide an enhanced experience for customers attending the iconic Belmont Stakes for generations to come.”

NYRA is committed to working with organized labor alongside New York State Certified Minority- and Women Owned (MWBE) and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDVOB) to construct a building that properly reflects the evolution of thoroughbred racing and wagering since Belmont was last renovated in the 1960s. Accordingly, NYRA will replace the existing 1.25 million sq foot structure with a roughly 275,000 sq ft building featuring the modern amenities and hospitality offerings sports fans now expect. As noted in the formal submission of materials from NYRA to the New York State Franchise Oversight Board (FOB), which can be viewed here, the demolition of the current Belmont Park grandstand/clubhouse is expected to begin in March and continue through early July. The new building will begin to take shape in early 2025 with the installation of structural concrete. The remaining elements of the building including the exterior façade, roof and sweeping canopy will be added throughout 2025.

As previously announced, the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be held at Saratoga Race Course for the first time in its 156 year history. The venue change will allow for uninterrupted construction of the new Belmont Park. Although Belmont Stakes Day on June 8 sold out in record time, tickets remain available for June 6,7 and 9.

NYRA has developed a project plan that will allow for the Belmont Stakes to return to Belmont Park in June of 2026 prior to the full opening of the new building, which is scheduled for September of 2026. Although a venue for the 2026 Breeders’ Cup World Championships has yet to be determined, the new Belmont Park will be complete and ready to host the 2026 Breeders’ Cup should the opportunity arise. The Breeders’ Cup has announced its commitment to add Belmont to the rotation of host venues following NYRA’s modernization of the facility.

Beyond the fan-facing improvements to Belmont, NYRA is committed to expanding its ongoing campaign to modernize the Belmont barn area and backstretch by building three new dormitories by 2026. NYRA will also make further investments to improve the quality of life in the backstretch community, including:

  • Improvements to the on-site medical facility
  • Installing a modern Blue Light security system
  • Upgrading the Recreation Hall and Track Kitchen facilities
  • Renovating the on-site Gymnasium
  • Implementing new flood mitigation strategies
  • Ensuring access to reliable Wi-Fi
  • Replacing fencing throughout the backstretch
  • Improving multi-modal travel through constructing bicycle storage sheds
  • Assess the feasibility of subsidized assistant trainer efficiency apartments

The new Belmont grandstand, which is being designed by the well-known architectural firm Populous in conjunction with NYRA, will dramatically increase the amount of unstructured green space available to fans by reducing the overall footprint of the building. And because of the vehicular and pedestrian tunnels providing access to the 45-acre Belmont infield for the first time, the new Belmont Park will provide fans and the surrounding community with more open space than ever before. As the first ground-up racetrack construction to occur in the United States in nearly 40 years, the new Belmont Park will reflect the continued success of thoroughbred racing in New York State while reinforcing the property’s status as an internationally recognized capital of horse racing.

While the new Belmont Park will have the same 50,000-person capacity as the existing venue, the layout of seats, suites, and standing spaces has been adjusted to accommodate flexible seasonal attendance. The addition of a winterized building paired with new racing surfaces and a synthetic track will result in a facility suitable to host thoroughbred racing on a year-round basis. As required by the 2024 Enacted Budget, NYRA will consolidate all downstate racing and training activities at the new Belmont Park to unlock 110 acres of New York State-owned land at Aqueduct Racetrack for development opportunities.

State Senator Leroy Comrie said, “The redevelopment and rejuvenation of Belmont Park will bring tangible economic development to the community, with good union jobs and opportunities for local businesses. I applaud Governor Hochul, my partners in the legislature and the entire Belmont Park community for working together to move this important project forward.”

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said, “The transformation of Belmont Park into a modern racing facility will benefit all New Yorkers with great union jobs, improved backstretch facilities, and updated amenities. I thank Governor Hochul for making this important project a reality, and I look forward to seeing the redevelopment progress.”

Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages said, “The transformation of Belmont Park into a renewed economic driver is underway with backstretch improvements and world-class amenities – and it’s all being done with our union partners. These details and milestones underscore New York’s commitment to the community, and I thank Governor Hochul for working with me to make this project a reality.”

Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow said, “Belmont Park has long been a part of the cultural fabric of New York, and thanks to Governor Hochul, these improvements will further establish its storied legacy in our state. This project is transformative, with real benefits to the surrounding neighborhood, the backstretch community, and all of New York State.”

Incorporated Village of Floral Park Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said, “The Inc. Village of Floral Park is excited to see the plans for a new and modern Belmont Park moving forward. For the past almost 120 years Belmont Park has been an excellent neighbor to Floral Park and we look forward to having the premier horse racing facility in the United States in our backyard. Additionally, as part of the Belmont Community Advisory Board, Trustee Chiara and I appreciate NYRA keeping the local communities up to date over the past few months, not only with updates on the project, but also regarding the implementation of suggestions brought forth by committee members to further enhance NYRA’s commitment to our communities. We look forward to working with NYRA on this important project for all of Belmont’s neighbors.”

NYRA President and CEO David O’Rourke said, “The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come. NYRA is committed to building a world-class destination that will set the global standard for a racing facility, and we thank Governor Hochul for the opportunity to completely re-imagine Belmont.”

NYRA Board of Directors Chair Marc Holliday said, “The new Belmont Park will be a thoroughly modern racing and entertainment facility that will take its place on the global stage among iconic venues like Ascot, Longchamp and The Curragh. It is an honor to design and develop a venue that will appeal to racing enthusiasts and attract a new generation of fans. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Hochul, the new Belmont Park will be immediately recognizable as a New York landmark and symbol of the enduring appeal of top-quality thoroughbred racing.”

Long Island Association President & CEO Matt Cohen said, “The new Belmont Park will be an economic engine for Long Island that will create jobs and drive tourism to our region for decades to come as it teams up with the adjacent UBS Arena to showcase a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex fans can walk to from the new LIRR Station in Elmont. I commend Governor Hochul and NYRA for their commitment to Long Island and look forward to seeing their vision become a reality in the months and years ahead.”

The Business Council of New York State President and CEO Heather Mulligan said, “New York State is horse country, and the construction of a new Belmont Park will support a range of both small and large businesses throughout the state. We have supported this project from its inception because horse racing means jobs and economic opportunities for New York, and that’s exactly what the new Belmont Park will deliver.”

Belmont Park Local Advisory Board Member Sandra Smith said, “The future of Belmont Park is deeply important to Elmont, so it’s exciting to see a plan that expands green space for the community while modernizing the overall facility. Governor Hochul and our friends at NYRA are right to invest in the future of Elmont, and we thank them for their focus on creating jobs and economic opportunities for Long Island.”

Elmont Chamber of Commerce President Julie Marchesella said, “Belmont Park stands at the very center of Elmont, and has been a focal point of our community for decades. That’s why families in Elmont have eagerly awaited a renewed Belmont Park, and we applaud Governor Hochul and our friends at NYRA making this project a reality.”

Populous Principal Meg McWilliam said, “Belmont Park has always been an iconic venue where people gather together, and its storied past is rich with trendsetting racing innovation. Working alongside NYRA, Populous is well suited to help deliver their vision for the new Belmont Park, respecting the heritage of the venue while reinventing a world-class experience that is approachable, dynamic and unexpected.”

Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties Matthew Aracich said, “The renovation of Belmont Park’s Grandstand will re-brand the Empire State as the crowned jewel of the horse racing world. NYRA’s imagination gives us the opportunity to cheer on a winner in style—it is an essential launchpad for attracting visitors to Long Island who want to be entertained for an entire day. I applaud Governor Hochul and NYRA President, David O’Rourke for ensuring this landmark destination is completed utilizing a project labor agreement creating 3,700 union construction jobs and 740 permanent jobs. It is important to note that this new replacement facility is a fraction of the original size but will generate $155 million in economic activity as well as $10 million in new state and local tax revenue.”

About the New York Racing Association (NYRA)

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State’s horse racing economy, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual statewide impact

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