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New race track casino plans presented in Boardman

January 18, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
There was a flurry of press activity at 11:30 a.m. today awaiting the arrival of two entrepreneurs who are planning a horse race track and resort somewhere in the Mahoning Valley. Rick Lertzman and Dr. Brad Pressman arrived, along with Rick’s father Ron Lertzman, to answer questions and unveil what they could about the project.

“The Mahoning Valley is one of the sleeping giants of Ohio,” Lertzman said. “We’ve worked hard on this for the past two to three years.”

The big question was where the $300 million track will be built. Both Lertzman and Pressman, the leaders of Mahoning Valley Development Group LLC out of Beachwood, held firm to not revealing any information regarding location, no matter how hard they were pressed.

Pressman did comment that they couldn't discuss location because they are still in negotiations for land. He said at the present time, they (himself and Lertzman) have options in place on 200 acres. They are holding back the location because they are in negotiations for an additional 500 acres.

“Within two weeks to a month we will be able to announce the exact location,” Spellman said.

As for the actual plans for the site, wherever it is, Spellman showed an artist’s rendering of the vision for the project. He started by commenting that they don’t want to just build a race track or casino. They want to build a resort complex that will draw visitors to the Valley. The plans call for a thoroughbred race track, a world-class casino, a four-star resort including a full-scale hotel, an international spa, a championship golf course, live entertainment and theater sections within the hotel complex, a shopping complex and up to seven restaurants.

As to the funding, Spellman said they are fully funded by private money and do not need government loans or help. That pleased Mahoning County commissioners John McNally and Carol Rimedio-Righetti, who were in attendance for the conference.

“It sounds like it is in the beginning stages,” McNally said during a break. “So far it is short on details. The best thing I’ve heard so far is that they are not looking for a tax abatement.”

Both commissioners like the job numbers Spellman gave. He said the construction end would bring in about 1,000 jobs and when the resort was up and running, the expectation is for 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. He also mentioned that the average pay scale would be around $35,000.

Pressman and Lertzman repeated several times that they wanted to work with local communities, even in supporting the resort. He gave the example of uniforms or trash removal.

“If a local company can do it, that’s who we would want to work with,” Spellman said.

The two men also dealt a little with their past to better let the media and commissioners know where they are coming from. They were the ones who were part of the 2008 ballot issue to bring a Las Vegas-style casino to southwest Ohio. Since that time they have been working on the Mahoning Valley project.

As a little deeper background, Lertzman said he ran a family business for 35 years that handled liquidations of businesses across the nation. He retired in 2002 and teamed up with Pressman for a new adventure in life.

“I closed a lot of businesses across this country,” Lertzman said. “Now I want to try building something up instead of closing it down.”

Pressman was an accomplished physician until he developed a problem with his eyes that forced him to retire from medicine and move into the field of resorts.

Pressman closed the conference prior to a break by saying, “We believe in a race track. What makes our different from Ohio’s seven other tracks is that we want to build it as a destination resort.”

Article Photos

Rick Lertzman and Dr. Brad Pressman, partners in the Mahoning Valley Development Group LLC, held a press conference at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman on Tuesday to discuss their plans for a $300 million world class horse racing and casino resort somewhere in the Mahoning Valley.



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