Northville Downs may be on the move, and it may be looking to add a retail casino in Michigan.
Representatives for the harness racing track submitted a proposal this past week to build a new track and facility in northwest Plymouth Township.
Included in the proposal is a 54,000-square foot gaming facility adjacent to the track, pending legislative approval for operation.
The new location would be just a few miles from the current Northville Downs location at 301 S. Center St. in Northville.
What would the new Northville Downs plan include?
Northville Downs sold its current location to Hunter Pasteur Homes in 2018. The new owners of the land plan to eventually develop that into 450 new residences, commercial space and parks.
Northville Downs is now looking for a new home and it is looking at a 128-acre parcel located at the corner of Five Mile and Ridge roads. It falls within the Michigan International Technology Corridor.
The first phase of the project would include:
- 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 54,000-square-foot gaming facility would be part of a future phase after the first phase is completed. That would also require licensing approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
What’s next for the new Northville Downs proposal?
The proposed plan is a $25 million project and in its infancy. It is under review and could come before the Plymouth Township Planning Commission as early as February.
Should the planning commission approve, the plan would then go before the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees.
Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise told Hometown Life that the project was unique and interesting.
“We’re flattered that Northville Downs would consider us as the site of their new operation,” Heise said. “We know horseracing is a lot different in Michigan than it was 100 years ago, and the proposal they’re putting forward is for a much more efficient operation than what they currently have, because the business model has changed. It’s a very environmentally responsible site with as much clean energy and green technology as possible, which is a big leap over what we see right now in Northville.”
New Northville Downs location could benefit Plymouth Twp. community
Heise told WWJ Newsradio 950 that he is on board for the project as of now due to the positives it could bring the community.
“As of now, based on what I know, I do support the project and I’ll be advocating for it. It’s very intriguing. I think it would provide a great financial benefit to our taxpayers, and it would be a very exciting entertainment venue for all of us in Wayne County.”
Heise also indicated that the township would work to negotiate a community benefit agreement with he track. That would allow for community events to be held at the new location.
Plymouth Township would also 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.
According to the MGCB, in 2020 Northville received $113,501 in breakage fees from Northville Downs. In 2021, it received $214,203.
Northville Downs 2023 schedule
Northville Downs will continue to operate with live racing in 2023 from its current location
A total of 52 live race dates were granted by the MGCB for this year. The first date is set for April 7, while the final live racing date is Sept. 30.
Each live race date must include at least eight races, with no more than 16.
Simulcast racing continues to take place every day at Northville Downs outside of April 9, Nov. 23, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.
Northville Downs has been in operation since 1944.