The Yavapai County Fairgrounds’ board of trustees has contracted Bill Murphy to be its consulting executive director and Mike Mullaney to be its on-site general manager.
Murphy is president of the Cleveland-based consultancy Continuing Improvement Solutions, which specializes in racetrack management. Prior to establishing CIS, he served as president and general manager of Gulfstream Park, and as vice president and general manager of Thistledown.
While at Gulfstream, Murphy oversaw the $200 million reconstruction of the racetrack and its clubhouse. He has also been an executive at Detroit Race Course and Hialeah Park, and is a board member of the Disabled Jockeys’ Fund.
Murphy and Mullaney worked together at Gulfstream, where the latter was media relations director, working with seven general managers and presidents there during a 10-year stint. Prior to that, the native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was the national features editor, eastern edition editor and federal legislative beat writer for Daily Racing Form. He will be tasked with day-to-day operations.
“We will do our best to make sure this facility is a source of pride for residents of Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey, and all towns and neighborhoods in Yavapai County,” Mullaney said. “Our goal is that the Yavapai County Fairgrounds becomes recognized for its contributions to many facets of agribusiness; for its family-entertainment value; for the quality of its customer service, for its aesthetically pleasing surroundings and for the thrilling competition on the racetrack.
“We also want to quickly address issues that this property may have had in the past. In the coming weeks, leading up to opening day, our visitors will see the difference.”
“Mike and Bill’s ability and the depth of their business relationships made them standout candidates,” said Jeff Wasowicz, chairman of the Yavapai County Fairgrounds board of trustees. “We’re delighted to have someone of their experience and their reputation for integrity.”
Yavapai Downs is gearing toward its 2011 opener May 28. There will be racing four days a week, Saturdays through Tuesdays, through Sept. 6. The traditional July 4 week hiatus to Flagstaff’s Coconino County Fair is on tap for July 2-5.