The Suburbanite
  • Racino plans at Thistledown may put local project on hold

  • Owner says relocation remains an option, despite investment at Thistledown track

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  • Despite a planned $88 million makeover of Thistledown racetrack, the door isn’t closed on a possible relocation of the facility to the Akron-Canton area.
    “We haven’t made any decisions on that,” said Jennifer Kulczycki, a spokesman for track owner Rock Ohio Caesars. “But I think it would be a bit of time before something like that happened.”
    Late this spring, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Rock Ohio signed an agreement that would have enabled a Thistledown racino, complete with video gaming terminals, to move from Cuyahoga County to within 12 miles of the Akron-Canton Airport. A location switch would likely help Rock Ohio from competing against itself — it also runs the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland.
     Rock Ohio had spoken with airport officials in 2011 about moving Thistledown to vacant airport-owned land along Greensburg Road in Green. Those talks ended, though, later that year, and some Green residents came together in organized opposition to any racino in the city.
    Kulczycki said Rock Ohio still is looking at possible relocation sites, but its energy is focused on improvements at the current Thistledown thoroughbred horse track in the village of North Randall.
    Those $88 million worth of investments were outlined at an Ohio Racing Commission meeting this week: A 57,000-square-foot gaming area with 1,150 video lottery terminals; a 60-seat restaurant; two food court outlets; a lounge for racino guests; repairs to the 2,300-space parking lot; new race simulcast viewing equipment; updated teller windows; a second lounge and a 500-seat restaurant overlooking the track.