Magna Continues With Plans For New California Track

Before heading to New Orleans to accept his four Eclipse Awards, Frank Stronach paid another visit to Dixon, Calif., a possible location for the new home of Bay Meadows.

Stronach's  Magna Entertainment Corporation holds the option to buy  225 acres of freeway-side property  in Dixon, 19 miles west of Sacramento on Interstate 80.  After some local opposition unclear on the concept, earlier discussion to build a state-of-the-art race track and training center on the site were abruptly stopped last fall as Magna continued to shop for Northern California real estate.

Last week, Stronach requested a meeting with new Dixon Mayor Mary Ann Courville and Vice Mayor Gil Vega to pitch his dream track again.

"It was a very good meeting, productive and friendly," said Dixon city manager Warren Salmons.  "They rolled out a plan for us to look at . They wanted to let us know that they're still seriously interested."

Stronach was accompanied to the Jan. 24 meeting by Jack Liebau, president of Magna's three California tracks, and Ron Volkman, a Magna director.  They had no immediate comment, but Liebau  earlier confirmed that the Sacramento Valley has been  at the top of Magna's list of possible locations for a track and training center.  

Magna  purchased the racing business of Bay Meadows, located in San Mateo,  but could not buy its 80-acre site, which is slated for redevelopment in 2003.

"They have some pretty ambitious plans," said Salmons, who could not share details of Stronach's  latest proposal.  "And they're facing some quick time constraints. This is something very significant for our community. We look forward to working with them."

Dixon officials expect Magna to return with a formal "comprehensive, yet flexible plan" for community review in the town of about 15,000 residents. No timeline was set.