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Edited We Are NY Racing Release – We Are NY Horse Racing, a coalition of small businesses, labor unions, non-profits, and trade associations, today released a public opinion poll that found 68 percent of voters statewide and 75 percent of voters on Long Island support using state bonding authority to construct new horse racing facilities at Belmont Park. In addition, according to the poll, New Yorkers view horse racing favorably by a 3-to-1 margin and broadly acknowledge the sport’s importance as an engine for New York State’s economy.

In 2022, legislation (S09022/A10101) was introduced for the first time that would allow the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) to finance the modernization of Belmont Park through state-backed bonds, marking a watershed moment for the decades-long effort to re-imagine Belmont. The coalition plans to build on that success moving forward.

Formed in September 2021, We Are NY Horse Racing’s 50+ members have engaged in dialogue with lawmakers, participated in legislative hearings, and hosted grassroots events to educate and inform the public about horse racing’s impact on the New York economy. In 2022, the coalition expanded its efforts by launching a series of broadcast, cable, and digital advertisements highlighting the dedicated and diverse group of individuals who are able to provide for their families because of the success of horse racing in New York.

Today’s announcement marks a new phase for the coalition, which is launching a full-fledged campaign to secure the necessary authorization to finance the construction of a new Belmont Park.

“Constructing a new Belmont Park will create jobs for New Yorkers, expand economic opportunity on Long Island, and drive tourism throughout the region,” said Jack Sterne, spokesperson for the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition. “That’s why New Yorkers here on Long Island and across the state overwhelmingly support this transformative economic development project. This year, our coalition is ready to crisscross New York to make the case that a new Belmont Park is a win for our economy, for our state, and for all New Yorkers.”

“From backstretch workers to security guards, from small businesses in Nassau County to farms across upstate, the economic impact of horse racing is massive, especially on Long Island — and New Yorkers are taking notice,” said Luis Vazquez, President and CEO of theLong Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition. “Three-quarters of Long Islanders support building a new, state-of-the-art Belmont Park because it would generate more jobs, more tax revenue, and more economic activity for Nassau County. This goal is within reach — and our coalition is ready to make the case directly to lawmakers this session.”

Horse racing in New York state is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual economic impact. While these benefits reach every corner of the state, they are felt most significantly in the areas surrounding race tracks, including Belmont Park in Nassau County, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga County. Since 2012, NYRA has paid $180 million in taxes and fees to New York State and City, while the Saratoga summer meet generates nearly $240 million in annual economic impact and is critically important to the Upstate tourism and hospitality sectors. This year’s Saratoga summer meet marked the seventh consecutive year with paid attendance exceeding one million.

In order to secure the sport’s future in New York, NYRA plans to construct a modernized grandstand at Belmont Park that would transform the facility into a world class destination, driving tourism to Long Island for decades to come. To finance this redevelopment project, the New York State legislature must approve bonding authority for NYRA — importantly, NYRA would be responsible for all debt service obligations on the bonds and no taxpayer funds would be used for the project. In fact, taxpayers would gain value, because NYRA would be spending its own funds to upgrade Belmont Park, which is owned by the state.

The poll found that a supermajority of voters (68%) support legislation to grant this bonding authority to NYRA so it can modernize Belmont Park on Long Island. Both Democrats (70%) and Republicans (70%) support the legislation in equal amounts, and support on Long Island nearly reaches a 5-to-1 margin (75% support to 16% oppose).

Additional findings from the poll include:

  • New Yorkers have a favorable view of horse racing — voters’ view of horse racing is favorable by a 3-to-1 margin (51% favorable to 17% unfavorable), with the margin on Long Island doubling to 6-to-1 (66% favorable to 11% unfavorable).
  • Voters want state government to recognize the sport’s importance — the vast majority of New Yorkers (74%) believe it is “important” that the New York State government recognize the importance of horse racing, with stable support from both Democrats (75%) and Republicans (78%).
  • New Yorkers understand the sport’s economic impact — three-in-four voters (75%) acknowledged that horse racing supports thousands of jobs and 72% recognized that the sport supports the economies surrounding racetracks.

The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group (GSG) in June and July of 2022. GSG conducted survey research to examine public perceptions among 1,141 New York voters statewide, with a margin of error of 3.5%. The polling sample included an oversample of 100 registered voters on Long Island.

About the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition

We Are NY Horse Racing is a coalition of small businesses, labor unions, non-profits, and trade associations who recognize the importance of horse racing as an economic engine that creates and sustains jobs for New York families. In total, the sport generates $3 billion annual economic activity in New York State and sustains 19,000 jobs for New Yorkers.

Launched in September of 2021, the coalition has quickly grown to include more than 50 members committed to educating the public about the role the sport plays in the New York State economy and advocating for legislation that supports horse racing in the Empire State. In addition to a paid advertising campaign, the membership has engaged in dialogue with lawmakers, participated in legislative hearings and conducted grass roots events to build support for the sport.

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