Wayne County, Mich., executive Robert Ficano and Huron Township supervisor John Mitchell took part in an April groundbreaking ceremony as they helped launch Pinnacle Race Course, which will be Michigan’s only Thoroughbred racetrack when it begins racing July 18.
Pinnacle will be located near Detroit Metro Airport and will include 6,000 spectator seats, 20 luxury boxes, a large family picnic area, and 200,000 square feet of retail space when completed. It is being developed by banker Jerry Campbell, a long-time Thoroughbred owner, and his wife, Lisa. Jerry Campbell fulfills the role of secretary/treasurer of the Pinnacle board, while Lisa Campbell serves as chairman and chief executive officer.
Other principals of the racetrack include investor and director Jack Krasula, president of the Trustinus search firm; and Michael McInerney, an investor and president of the Campbell’s racing stable, Post It Stables. Former Great Lakes Downs racing secretary Allan Plever will serve as vice president of racing of the new track.
Post It Stables, based in Grass Lake, Mich., was granted a racing dates last October and a meet license March 19. According to Campbell, it was important to break ground immediately, so the limestone base of what will eventually become the racetrack can cure and settle during the spring and to begin preparing the site for racing July 18.
An estimated $142 million will be invested to build Pinnacle, Campbell said. The track is expected to employ more than 1,200 workers, plus at least 1,100 temporary construction jobs, 1,740 retail jobs, and an estimated 20,000 trickle-down jobs associated with the development. Pinnacle will result in an estimated $1.5 billion in annual economic benefit to Michigan.
Premium temporary seats, similar to those used at the Breeders Cup World Championships, will allow racing to begin this summer while construction of the grandstand continues. The permanent facility is expected to be completed in the spring of 2009, Campbell said.
“Pinnacle Race Course will be unlike any other horse-racing facilities Michigan has seen,” Campbell said. “Our vision is to have it be another location for family entertainment, much like attending a Detroit Tigers game, the Detroit Zoo, or Michigan State Fair.
"In addition to traditional horse races, Pinnacle Race Course will host several equestrian and horse-jumping events, equine education seminars and classes, and, many opportunities to see the horses close up. We will encourage school field trips and special tours to widen the understanding and appreciation of these athletic animals.
"Our facilities will include areas for tailgating and picnics so family and friends can experience a full day of being together and enjoying what surely will be a new form of sports entertainment for many.”
Pinnacle plans to host the Michigan Derby in April 2009. It is designed to serve as a prep race in the weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The track is working on a $5-million bonus that could be paid to the owner of a horse that wins the Michigan and Kentucky Derbys.
The lead track engineer for Pinnacle is Joseph King, who has been involved in the design and construction at many of the major new or rebuilt racing facilities in North America during the last three decades. The architect for the project is Ghafari Associates, while the construction management company is Roncelli, one of southeast Michigan’s largest general contractors.