It is finally official. Michigan’s only horse racing track is shutting its doors this February. After 80 years in operation in Northville, Michigan, the Northville Downs racetrack faces demolition.
Racing fans were graced with a few last races this year, although a few were canceled due to the weather. Back in November, Northville Downs had released news of horse racing making a return in January on Friday and Saturday nights. At the time, there was no mention of the track closing or continuing operation.
As of January 17th, however, the horse racing track has announced that it will cease operations at its current location. The MGCB announced the news on its website.
“The Michigan Gaming Control Board expresses our deepest gratitude to all of the Northville Downs patrons who have made each race day memorable and thrilling,” said MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams. “We appreciate the support of those who have kept Northville Downs going for 80 years and look forward to the next chapter of horse racing in Michigan at a new location.”
According to the MGCB, the last race day will be February 3rd.
Patrons will be able to cash any winning wagers until February 10th. If players are unable to make it to the track by the 10th, there are still options. Players can mail in their ticket to Northville Downs at Northville Downs, 47526 Clipper St., PO Box 701220, Plymouth, MI 48170.
Unfortunately, the closure of the track does not mean construction will begin immediately at the new location. The proposed site for the race track is actually facing a new huge setback. Thanks to the Plymouth County Township Board of Trustees, Michigan’s last horse racing track will be homeless for at least the next 1-2 years. On January 23rd, the board of trustees for Plymouth County voted 6-0 to rescind a motion that authorized negotiations for a planned use development on the land owned by Northville Downs.
“I don’t see any path to reopening these discussions,” said Supervisor Kurt Heise. “I think we’ve made a decision that discussions are over. We’ve withdrawn their application, and I anticipate that their time extension will be denied.”
“Part of the rationale is that Northville Downs has not negotiated in good faith,” Heise added. “When you say someone is acting in bad faith, in the context of the Michigan zoning code, there are legal and procedural implications to that.”
In a letter sent to board members, Northville Downs attorney Mike Cox said the Township’s demand for a community benefit agreement was essentially an illegal money grab in exchange for the approval of the project.
“It is disappointing that the board chose to support the illegal demands of Supervisor Heise,” wrote Cox. “It is simply not the case in America that local government can extort property owners to use their own property.”
Up to this point, the project had faced strong opposition from local residents but faced no issues passing through the steps required by the county. The 128-acre parcel of land was supposed to be home to a top-of-the-line horse racing venue. The plans included a half-mile oval harness racetrack, grandstand, horse barn, racing building, and more. For now, the property will sit undeveloped for presumably several more years.
Closure information and future updates can be found on the NorthvilleDowns.com official website.
Mac Daniel is a writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: playonlinemichigan.com