In a ceremony highlighted by Frank Stronach wearing a hard hat and wielding a shovel, Magna Entertainment Corp. officially broke ground on its new South Florida Thoroughbred training facility Tuesday.
"We are delighted with the success of Gulfstream Park and look forward to growing our Florida-based operations," said Stronach, Magna's chairman. "The training center is a major step in this process."
The facility, named Palm Meadows, is being constructed on 304 acres in Boynton Beach, Fla. When complete, it will offer stalls for 1,900 horses and include two dirt tracks—one at 1 1/8 miles and one at seven furlongs—with a one-mile turf course in between. Magna expects Palm Meadows to open in October 2002, with 640 stalls built during the initial phase.
Stronach and Magna executives were joined at the ground-breaking by both representatives from the Florida breeding and racing communities and by Palm Beach County officials who echoed the comments of commissioner Warren Newell. "This will be a great boon to the county," he said.
A Magna study predicts creation of 2,017 jobs and an annual economic impact in excess of $50 million.
Harold Plumley, president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, praised Magna for its willingness to invest in racing.
"In all the time I've been in this business, Palm Meadows is the first major investment that I've seen," he said. "It's going to be a state-of-the-art facility and anytime someone invests realistically in our industry it's a help to all of us."
Speaking on behalf of horsemen, Linda Mills, president of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association called it "a first-class project" and said she hopes it will alleviate the shortage of winter stall space in South Florida.