Northville Downs Adds Race Dates, Still Pursuing Relocation, Casino Project

Written By Drew Ellis on September 26, 2023
Image of harness racing over a casino for story on Northville Downs wanting to build casino

Michigan’s lone harness racing track has extended its 2023 season while it continues efforts to relocate.

Northville Downs announced an extension of 16 more races this year. That will see it operate until the end of November.

In the meantime, the proposed relocation and expansion of Northville Downs is still in the works. However, the proposed plans still remain in the hands of the Plymouth Township Planning Department.

Northville Downs proposed expansion plans

Early in 2023, representatives for Northville Downs submitted a proposal to build a new track and facility in northwest Plymouth Township.

The new location would be just a few miles from the current Northville Downs location at 301 S. Center St. in Northville.

As part of the expansion is a proposed 54,000-square foot gaming facility adjacent to the track, pending legislative approval.

Also included in the project would be:

  • Construction of a half-mile oval harness racetrack
  • A two-story, 4,900-square-foot grandstand with a large patio for standing-room race viewing
  • 23,000-square-foot racing building
  • 35,000-square-foot horse barn
  • 3,200-square-foot maintenance building

The gaming facility wouldn’t be part of the initial phase of the new project. Once the listed additions were completed, then owners would move on to building the gaming facility and seeking licensing approval. Only time would tell if Northville Downs would also seek a Michigan online casino license.

The initial proposal had this as a $25 million project.

Status of Northville Downs expansion project

According to the Plymouth Township Planning Department, there have been no major developments in the project. The plans are still undergoing review.

The township website does show the following plans that have been submitted as part of the project:

  • Revised project narrative (Feb. 23)
  • Traffic Impact Assessment (Feb. 28)
  • Site Plan (May 22)
  • Building Render (May 22)
  • Traffic Management Plan (May 22)
  • Waste Management Plan (May 22)
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan (May 22)

Should the planning commission ultimately approve the new location and plans, the project would then go before the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees.

Plymouth Township would be entitled to breakage fees with Northville Downs moving to the new location.

Breakage is the difference in cents between the winning payouts and the nearest dime (or nickel in a minus pool situation).

For example, if a winning bet is computed to pay $3.12 then the bettor receives $3.10. The breakage of $0.02 is deposited into a fund distributed and used by the cities or townships where the tracks are located. Breakage figures are all breakage incurred at the track during the calendar year.

Northville Downs season extend through November

Originally, Northville Downs was granted 52 live race dates for 2023. That started on April 7 and wash scheduled to conclude on Sept. 30.

However, the Michigan Gaming Control Board and Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association granted an extension for the track through Nov. 25.

Racing at Northville Downs will continue on every Friday and Saturday through Nov. 25. That is a total of 16 extra dates, giving Northville Downs a total of 68 for 2023.

Each live race date must include at least eight races, with no more than 16.

Along with a full slate of live harness racing on the added weekend dates, Northville Downs also offers pari-mutuel wagering through simulcast racing from around the country.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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