Colonial Downs to reopen in April; racing returns in August

Updated: Mar. 4, 2019 at 6:56 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You won’t have to go out of state anymore to experience a day at the races.

Colonial Downs will be opening its doors once again in just a few weeks.

“This is who we are, and to become a sight again, a destination for all of Virginia right here in our backyard. It’s oh so important to us," said Matthew Smolnick, the Director of Economic Development in New Kent County.

Since October, crews have been working to breathe new life into the old racetrack.

New additions to the facility includes a restaurant and a game room, as Colonial Downs will be adding a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium.

Rosie’s New Kent is set to open at 11 a.m. April 23, and will house historic horse races, the equivalent of slot machines.

It is expected to be the main source of revenue, on top of the money coming in from the race bets.

Reconstruction on the track is also scheduled for April, with a laying down of new material on both the grass and turf tracks – just in time for horse training in July.

“We’re expecting horses to take up residency through live racing, from nearby states like Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland," said John Marshall, of the Colonial Downs Group.

They expect to house more horses from Europe and South America in the future.

The horse races won’t actually start until Aug.8, with a scheduled 15 days of competition.

The Colonial Downs group says the return of the racetrack could potentially lead to more economic growth for New Kent County, first with the creation of at least 800 jobs.

“Roughly 300-400 just in this [New Kent] location. Obviously during racing season, that number will get even larger as we employ the temporary workforce to run the races," Aaron Gomes of Colonial Downs Group said.

They believe that the increase in business at the tracks could spill over to the rest of the county’s economy.

“We were just told that New Kent doesn’t have any hotels in the entire county. So that’s just one example that we’re expecting when [Colonial Downs] opens, economic development in the region, such as hotels and restaurants as more visitors come from outside New Kent County,” Gomes added.

The group says they may be exploring holding other events like concerts and festivals at the race track.

New Kent County is celebrating the return of racing at Colonial Downs. (Source: NBC12)
New Kent County is celebrating the return of racing at Colonial Downs. (Source: NBC12)

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