Lone Star Park began the first phase of its $7.8-million expansion plan Nov. 20 to accommodate horsemen from around the world and an anticipated crowd in excess of 50,000 for the 2004 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Most of the first phase, which should be completed before the 2003 Thoroughbred meet begins in April, will directly benefit Lone Star's regular group of horsemen. Two 50-stall barns, a 96-stall multi-purpose quarantine barn, six stable-area dormitory buildings, and two recreation rooms are on the drawing board.
"Our team at Lone Star Park has been planning to host a Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships for years," said Jeff Greco, vice president and general manager at Lone Star. "It's a great feeling to actually put the plan into effect and get under way. The site work will begin immediately, and structures will be coming out of the ground by the end of the year."
Actual construction on the two barns, to be located in the northwest sector of the stable area, will begin at the conclusion of the Quarter Horse meet Nov. 30. Construction of the quarantine barn, which will be located near the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Pavilion in the southeast sector of the stable area, will begin after the Fasig-Tipton December mixed sale Dec. 15.
The three barns will give Lone Star the ability to accommodate nearly 1,600 horses during its live meets. When complete, Lone Star's stable area will have 32 barns.
"The quarantine barn will be multi-purpose," Greco said. "It's the size of an indoor arena, and stalls can be set up on a temporary basis. For example, it will hold 96 stalls, but during the Breeders' Cup, we can downsize and make the accommodations much more comfortable for the foreign participants. And since the stalls can be easily added and removed, the barn could be used as a covered walking ring for horse sales. It will really be state-of-the-art."
Also included in phase one are amenities in the Courtyard of Champions, and the installation of canvas sunscreens above the racetrack's open-air, terraced apron seating just outside of the grandstand.
The second phase, to begin in late 2003, will include the construction of permanent box seats on the grandstand apron, as well as expansion of the winner's circle and saddling paddock. The third and final phase will be the addition of 35,000 to 40,000 temporary seats that will extend from the final turn, down the stretch, and into the first turn.
The temporary seating areas will be accompanied by numerous temporary service structures with pari-mutuel windows and concession stands. Temporary giant video screens will be added to those areas as well.
Corey Johnsen, president of Lone Star, led a group of local dignitaries in a ground-breaking ceremony Nov. 20. Others in attendance were Greco; Charles England, mayor of Grand Prairie and president of the Grand Prairie Sports Facilities Development Corp.; Wayne Hanks, vice president of the Grand Prairie Sports Facilities Development Corp.; Tom Hart, city manager of Grand Prairie; and Grand Prairie Sports Facilities Development Corp. members Bryan Arnold and Jim Swafford.