Earth was turned on Thursday, May 30 as township, county and state officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Hollywood at Mahoning Valley Race Course. The facility will cost $125 million and will bring first-class gaming and thoroughbred racing on a one-mile track, to the Valley.
The project is being constructed at Austintown's CentrePoint Business Park off Ohio 46 near the Interstate 80 interchange. It will bring employment for 1,000 construction workers over the next year as well as providing 1,000 direct and indirect jobs once the racino opens.
Speaking at the ceremony on Thursday was Eric Schippers, vice president in charge of public relations. He thanked Austintown's Jim Davis and Darrin Crivelli for their efforts in standing behind the recent Ohio Racing Commission meetings.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Austintown Township Trustee Lisa Oles, County Commisioner and former Austintown Trustee David Ditzler, and Ohio Rep. Robert Hagan sign a groundbreaking poster as part of the official ground breaking for the new race track/racino in the township on Thursday, May 30.
"[Austintown Trustee] Jim Davis has been the Energizer Bunny in all of this," Schippers said. "He has attended all six Racing Commission hearings."
"All of us at Penn National are grateful to our local officials, community leaders, and friends in the business community here in Austintown and the Mahoning Valley for the cooperation and strong support that has led to this historic day," said Penn National CEO and President Tim Wilmott. "This formal groundbreaking is just the beginning of a process that will lead up to the grand opening of Hollywood at Mahoning Valley Race Course next year. But more than that, it is the beginning of what we foresee as a new era of economic development for the Mahoning Valley. The jobs and business opportunities we'll be creating here, the tax revenues that will begin flowing, and the boost the facility will bring to the tourism, hospitality and retail industries in the Valley will have a long-lasting, beneficial impact on this community and this region."
Wilmott said he expects to be holding a ribbon cutting on the property within 14 to 15 months.
Also speaking at the ceremony were U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, state Reps. Ron Gerberry and Robert F. Hagan, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler, Austintown Township Trustee Jim Davis and Don Crane, president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council.
Davis said he was glad to see the groundbreaking come to pass.
"Austintown has finally got its piece of the puzzle," he said. "We are going to become a hot spot in the Valley."
County Commissioner and former Austintown Trustee Dave Ditzler, said he was interested in one job.
"I am asking for one job when this opens," he said. "I want to be the one to say, 'And they're off!' "