New Michigan Track Still on Schedule
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 6/12/2008 10:28:20 AM
Last Updated: 6/13/2008 8:34:19 PM

Construction at Pinnacle Race Course, which is scheduled to open on July 18.
Photo: Pinnacle Race Course

Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan remains on schedule for a July 18 opening and has filled the position of vice president of sales and marketing.

Pinnacle, which will bring live Thoroughbred racing back to the Detroit metropolitan area for the first time since 1998, plans a “soft” opening this summer, officials said. Construction of the dirt racing surface, 12,000-square-foot corporate pavilion, stalls, and temporary seating areas is expected to be complete by July 18. The meet is scheduled to run 63 days this year.

Pinnacle will have 600-800 stalls ready this year. Officials said the temporary seats will be similar to those used at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Ryder Cup, and Super Bowl.

The track's first condition book is not yet available at its Web site or through Equibase.

Racing will take place this year while construction of the new grandstand, remaining horse stalls, and ancillary facilities are completed for the opening of the 2009 season. Eventually, Pinnacle will have a three-story, 60,000-square-foot clubhouse with private suites and boxes; a 4,000-seat grandstand; the corporate pavilion; an 8,000-square-foot covered patio; 30 barns with 1,200 stalls; a grooms’ quarters with 100 rooms; and jockeys’ quarters.

Inside the one-mile dirt track will be a seven-furlong turf course, though it won't be ready in 2008.

Russ Gregory, vice president of sales and marketing, will direct and coordinate sponsorship sales and marketing, and also handle simulcast-related matters. Pinnacle is hoping to sell naming rights for its clubhouse, corporate pavilion, winner’s circle, grandstand, parking areas, and backstretch, officials said in a release.

“Pinnacle Race Course will emerge as one of Michigan’s premier family-entertainment sites, and it will be an outstanding opportunity for corporations to be attached to a new entertainment option that we expect will draw a lot of attention,” track developer Jerry Campbell said in a statement. “We expect Pinnacle Race Course to have a very positive brand identity, and are excited to offer corporations an opportunity to grow with us during our first few years.”

“It’s not too often that you get a clean slate from which to develop an entire new operation,”
Gregory said in a statement. “I’m excited by the level of commitment by Jerry and the rest of the team to creating an unparalleled entertainment destination, and I’m looking forward to bringing some of the most well-known corporations to the Pinnacle family.”

Gregory has worked in business development, sales, and sports marketing with clients such as Compuware, Priority Health, La-Z-Boy, Kelly Services, ePrize, and Steelcase. He also served previously as senior vice president of sales, marketing, and communications for the Hartford Whalers Hockey Club, now the Carolina Hurricanes.

Campbell, who operates Campbell Stables with his wife, Felicia “Lisa,” raced Thoroughbreds at old Detroit Race Course, which closed in 1998. He then was the driving force behind the opening of Great Lakes Downs in western Michigan in 1999 to keep the sport going in the state.

Great Lakes Downs closed last year. Pinnacle is being built not far from Detroit Metro Airport in Detroit’s western suburbs.

Since the closure of DRC, Thoroughbred racing in the metro area has been available only via simulcasts at two Detroit-area harness tracks, Hazel Park and Northville Downs. Many horsemen who usually race in Michigan in the spring, summer, and fall currently have their strings at Indiana Downs in Indiana, River Downs and Thistledown in Ohio, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Pennsylvania.



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