Rockingham Races While Owners Consider Development Plans

Racing will continue at Rockingham Park for at least two more years while the track works with a Massachusetts development company and the city of Salem on plans to develop the 170-acre property.

The future of the track came into question following last February's defeat by the state House of a bill that would have permitted up to 1,200 video lottery terminals to be added at Rockingham. The excess revenue generated by expanded gaming would have been used to increase purses in order to compete with surrounding tracks, such as Delaware Park, that offer expanded gaming.

Ed Callahan, vice president and general manager of Rockingham, said Eastern Development of Woburn, Mass., will assist in creating a development plan and will work alongside the track when the final plans are brought before the city of Salem planning and building divisions.

"During the next two years we are going to work on the designs and planning. However, if expanded gaming becomes a possibility then we are still flexible enough to make changes, although we are not optimistic," Callahan said.

Expanded gaming in New Hampshire has been discussed since March of 1994 after the residents of Salem voted in favor of a referendum to explore the possibility of adding video slot machines at the track. Each year since then, the state legislature has killed bills and Rockingham has suffered from declines in handle.

Callahan said there are no exact development plans in mind for the property at this moment, but he expects the property could be converted into a mixture of uses, including retail, office and residential.

"This is a very large parcel of land, and it will be the largest single development project the city has ever undertaken. There is a lot of room here and all avenues need to be pursued. We want to do something that will work well with the community," Callahan said.