In another appeal to this small town of 17,000 residents, MEC has offered to turn the track’s 14-acre infield into athletic fields open free to community organizations, the company announced March 8. In addition, MEC announced it would build a 20,000-square-foot indoor practice facility and permanent baseball diamond on the edge of its 260-acre property.
Dixon Downs goes before the city’s voters April 17. If approved, the track could host its first meet in late 2009 or early 2010.
“Including room for baseball, soccer, football and other sports was all part of our original plan,” MEC vice president Dennis Mills said. “After listening to local sports leadership, we feel we made it 100 percent better.”
Magna, in an effort to sway unsure voters in favor of the development, last week announced there would be no slot machines or huge concerts at the facility. It also offered space in its proposed retail complex for existing downtown businesses and said it would not race during the summer in order to accommodate the tomato harvest season at the nearby Campbell Soup plant.
Under this plan, the racetrack’s infield will include up to eight multipurpose fields for soccer, baseball, softball, football, rugby and other sports. Infield play would not be held during live horseracing or morning workouts.
Landscaped berms will form sloped seating areas as well as block the fields from grandstand view.
“We already have the infrastructure to take care of the turf course, so why not use that for these fields, too?” Mills said. “Maintaining the turf course for racehorses is almost a science in itself. We’ll have the finest playing fields available.”
Use of the fields will be limited to spring through fall, when demand is greatest. During wet winter months, the infield will be used as a catch basin and look like a lake.
Several youth and adult recreation leagues advised Magna on the plan. “This is a big deal, not only for our organization, but the whole community,” said Bill Carr, president of Dixon Pop Warner, which has about 250 players. “We’re in a fast-growing community and our facilities are already stretched to the limits. To offer this at no cost is a huge benefit.”