Site Plan OK'd for Michigan Racetrack

A site plan for the proposed Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan has been approved.

The Huron Township Planning Commission approved a site plan March 10 for the proposed $142-million Pinnacle Race Course near Detroit, Mich.

Approved by the commission on a 6-1 vote, the site already is being prepped for construction by developers, the Southgate News-Herald reported. Authorizations are still needed from the township, the Wayne County and Michigan departments of environmental quality, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Mike McInerney, president of Post It Stables, said he expects a couple of regulatory approvals to come shortly, soon after which the track will be built.

Michigan banker Jerry Campbell and his wife, Lisa, run Post It Stables, which would own and operate the track. The plan is to build Pinnacle on about 320 acres south of Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The track was granted 63 days of live racing beginning July 18.

Pinnacle would offer the first live Thoroughbred racing in the Detroit metropolitan area since Detroit Race Course closed at the end of 1998.

“It’s in the Detroit metropolitan area, which has over the years has been a big, successful population of 5.5 million people,” Jerry Campbell told The Blood-Horse. “We’ve been in the (horse) business for four decades, we think there’s an opportunity, and we’ve had outstanding support from the horsemen and governmental units. We think it’s a project whose time has come.”

Michigan Racing Commissioner Christine White has made a decision on the license for the 10,000-seat track, but it hasn’t been publicly released, officials said. The decision is being reviewed by state Attorney General Mike Cox’s office.

“We think it’s a done deal,” Campbell said. “All of the prep work on the site has been done. There is a construction building there, and heavy equipment on the site. We’re ready to go.”

The retail aspect of the Pinnacle is not part of its first phase of development. A market feasibility analysis is being conducted to determine what types of entertainment venues the public wants at the track, McInerney said.

Campbell isn’t concerned by the projected July 18 start date for Thoroughbred racing.

“We are doing it in phases,” he said. “The big new grandstand won’t be done (by July 18), but we’re having a corporate pavilion, which has seating for a couple thousand, and of course, the track will be done, the barns will be done, and the lot will be paved.”

Michigan’s only other Thoroughbred racetrack, Great Lakes Downs, which is located on the western side of the state, was permanently closed by Magna Entertainment Corp. in November. The track is for sale. Campbell said he believes the land would be used for commercial purposes rather than reopened as another racetrack.

Campbell is currently a director on the MEC board and a former chief executive officer of the company. MEC in 2005 was awarded a Michigan racing license in anticipation of developing a new track near the city of Romulus, but relinquished its rights to the license in August 2007.