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Georgia Horse Racing Supporters Unveil Their Grand Vision

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[It's a mixed-use wonderland! With horses! Renderings by Populous, courtesy GHRC.]

A group of business and civic leaders calling themselves The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition has unveiled their vision for a grand racetrack complex that would incorporate urban-style, mixed-use elements such as a "walkable neighborhood," "public market," "shaded boulevard" and lofts. But it's all contingent on Georgia voters giving the go-ahead for horse-track gambling. The track and surrounding components — which project leaders are calling cutting-edge, first-class and even "revolutionary" — have been designed by Populous, the architecture firm behind the new Atlanta Braves and Falcons stadiums and horse-racing tracks on five continents. "Our goal is to reinvent horse racing by combining a race track with a mixed-use development and park to create the ultimate fan experience at no expense to taxpayers," coalition president Dean Reeves said in a release. "If horse racing is approved by voters, Georgia would become the home of a state-of-the-art track that is just as innovative as the new facilities for the Falcons and Braves." In an email to Curbed, coalition member Martha A. Woodham added, "We are working hard to bring racing to Georgia, and we feel like we're getting close to the winner's circle."

Similar to the new Braves park, the complex would be a mixed-use entertainment and recreation development with commercial, hospitality, retail and residential components. "Nothing like this has been done before with a race track," Woodham said. "The infield will be a park, and the track will be surrounded by fan seating. The year-round facility will be flexible enough to be used for other activities — concerts, festivals, etc. — when there is no racing."

Supporters say the project will create 5,000 jobs and that construction would begin immediately if voters approve horseracing — even though a site for the facility has yet to be determined. (It'll need quite a lot of land). Construction is expected to take two years, officials said.

Horse-track gambling promises to be a hot issue at the Georgia Statehouse this session. A proposal to legalize it sprung out of the gates last week and was met with heavy opposition from naysayers who pointed to tracks in other states that have been forced to add casino gambling to remain viable, Fox 5 reported. Conversely, supporters such as Senator Brandon Beach (R–Alpharetta) say the industry would generate $15 million for the HOPE Scholarship and $500 million for Georgia's economy.

For what it's worth, voters in our highly scientific poll about the future of Turner Field's site last year didn't think too much of equine betting. Just 100 votes of 2,568 cast were for "Horse-racing complex."

· Hey, Atlanta, What Should Become of Turner Field? Vote Now! [Curbed]
· The State Will Continue to Help Limit Your Sinning...For Now [Curbed; 2012]
· Georgia Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Legalizing Horse Racing [Fox 5]