Magna Closes $6.3-Million Land Deal in NoCal

Without fanfare, Magna Entertainment completed its purchase of a Sacramento Valley site for a new home for its Bay Meadows Race Course.

Magna closed a $6.3-million deal on 226 acres of freeway-side property in Dixon, located about 19 miles west of Sacramento on Interstate 80. Currently farmland, the site is about 50 miles east of Golden Gate Fields, another Magna track.

The real estate transaction, not announced by Magna, was recorded in May by the Solano County assessor-recorder's office.

Ronald Volkman, Magna's spokesman for Northern California, said the company had no comment right now on the project. "Basically, there isn't and there shouldn't be any comment at this time," he said. "There's not much to report."

The city of Dixon is awaiting Magna's plans. "We have no new information," city manager Warren Salmons said.

Salmons and other Dixon officials last met with Magna founder Frank Stronach and company representatives in February. "We've heard nothing since then," Salmons said.

At the time of the earlier meeting, Salmons expected to hear back from Magna in June. The purchase keeps that timeline intact.

Last year, Magna proposed a state-of-the-art Thoroughbred showcase and horse-oriented entertainment center in Dixon that would replace San Mateo's Bay Meadows, which must be vacated by Dec. 31, 2002. When Magna bought Bay Meadows, the company got the license, but not the property underneath the racetrack. The landowner plans to redevelop the site.

The new pastoral complex in Dixon would include a year-round training facility. If approved by city officials and licensed by the state, racing could be held at the new track as soon as April 2003.

Its first time through Dixon almost a year ago, Magna pitched a vague plan, trying to weigh local reaction before committing. A small but vocal group of residents, worried how a racetrack might affect their community's small-town feel, protested at city council meetings.

Dixon, a farming town that is rapidly turning into a suburban bedroom community, has about 15,000 residents. That local dissension caused Magna to not close escrow on the property last fall. Stronach, though, remained very interested in the Dixon location, and Magna retained the option to buy the site, its first choice for a new track and training facility.