Campbell “indicates” sale of land parcel to Native American tribe

From the Michigan HBPA website

JERRY CAMPBELL SPEAKS TO HBPA BOARD: During agreement discussions, Jerry (Campbell, owner of Pinnacle Race Course) indicated to the members attending the meeting that he is involved in serious effort to offer Instant Racing (pari-mutuel wagering on old races).  In addition, he indicated that a portion of Pinnacle property south of the current structure has been sold to a Native American tribe that may build a “smoke shop” and potentially a casino. According to Jerry both endeavors are to offer millions to our purse pool. It is a an effort to save an industry whose “model is broken and must be addressed or the industry can not survive.”

No other information was immediately available, but if these “indications” are true, this could be a potential game changer. Instead of trying to go toe-to-toe with the tribal casinos, it appears Campbell has cut a deal with one of them. For those unfamiliar with the setup of Pinnacle Race Course, the track itself is built well off the road, leaving plenty of room for expansion on the property.

The tribe purchasing the land was not named in the HBPA’s release. However, it is worth noting that the Upper Peninsula-based Hannahville Indian Community applied last October to build a casino near the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, about five miles away from Pinnacle. Clearly, this is only speculation on the writer’s part, but an agreement of this caliber would have clear benefits for both parties. Pinnacle would get its casino and the Hannahville tribe would have the extra bargaining chips of supporting the racing industry and building on a site that already hosts gambling. Or, the deal could have been made with a completely different tribe and this idea was a complete whiff. One would assume we will find out in the near future.

Another question that immediately comes to mind is how the potential casino money would be distributed. The HBPA’s release suggests the purse pool would be a benefactor, but horsemen’s programs including breeder’s awards are not addressed. Again, additional details are sure to come out as time goes on.

A move like this could explain Campbell’s relative silence in regards to the two casino petitions currently battling for a place on November’s ballot. If the deal with the Native American tribe goes as planned, the track would have no need for racino legislation. If it falls through, Campbell has a safety net in the ballot proposal.

Instant racing has been suggested in Michigan for several years, but its legality in the face of Proposal 04-1 has generated mixed results from attorneys and lawmakers. The poster child for instant racing is the state of Arkansas, whose Oaklawn Park was ready to offer Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and undefeated champion Zenyatta $5 million to square off before the former’s connections backed out.

For those with access to the print edition of Thoroughbred Times, senior writer Frank Angst wrote a feature in the April 17, 2010 issue that did a great job of explaining how instant racing works and how it has changed the culture at Oaklawn. Those seeking more information on the issue would be wise to seek out the story.

It will be interesting to see how these stories develop in the coming months.

In related news, the HBPA website also reports…

PINNACLE/HBPA: Both have reached an agreement to enable the 2010 season to get underway….backside to open May 15 and track for training Monday 17th…meet will consist of 44 race days thru Oct. 31, 2010. This agreement has been presented to the MGCB for their approval. Live racing to begin June 26th thru Oct. 31, 2010

An agreement has been executed by both parties.

However, an informal meeting was held Friday May 7 to discuss the possibility of changing the current agreement. The Michigan HBPA board will address the suggested changes ASAP.

Suggested changes include the possibility of moving opening day back to June 4 and terms of financial assistance to Pinnacle.

If any changes are made to Pinnacle’s schedule, they’ll be here as soon as they become public.


Filed under Commentary, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

10 responses to “Campbell “indicates” sale of land parcel to Native American tribe

  1. ragman

    I wonder if the day will ever come where all racing, TBs, Trots and GHs will be conducted at Pinnacle?

  2. mibredclaimer

    If Pinnacle ends up being the only track in the state with an adjacent casino, that just might become a reality. Though it would be nice if at least one other track stayed in business so one could run flat racing while the other ran the Standardbreds, similar to the Indiana circuit. It would be hard to appease everybody if there was only one track to go around.

  3. Old Time Race Fan

    Oh no! I have had June 4 circled on my calendar all year. Now I may have to wait another three weeks?

  4. mibredclaimer

    That seems to be the case. It looks like they may try to move opening day back up to its originally planned date (and personally, I hope they do, as I may have plans on the 26th), so don’t go reaching for the white-out just yet.

    Guess it was probably a good idea I didn’t put up a countdown clock for opening day. It probably would have self-destructed by now.

  5. Longshot

    The ever changing as THE RACE TRACK TURNS.

    Tune in for tomorrow’s saga. Man you said the KEY word in this article Joe.

    Campbell’s RELATIVE SILENCE. But you know what I’ve been harping and harping to the tune of let’s get Jerry into bed with a Casino, I’m sure he’s gotten in bed at some point in his lifetime with worse. Even put it in an email to HBPA.
    Made sense to me.

    Kept saying this man didn’t get to be in the position of CEO/President/Chairman of Bancorp being uneducated.

    Heard last year him make big pow wow with somebody. Just never knew who. And we still don’t. And word is Opening will be June 5th. In Bold Red Letters on site to horsemen though, CALL BEFORE YOU SHIP IN. In all fairness to the horsemen that went NO WHERE over winter ( and there were many ). Less than 3 weeks on track is not much time to train. I’d like it better if middle June.

    Who knows tomorrow they could say Pinnacle is closing for good. With this group expect the unexpected. It’s a never ending saga.

  6. BWT

    A brilliant plan to beat Jenny & Co. at her own game IF Campbell can pull it off, and that’s certainly a big IF. Thanks for digging this up Joe, but is it more than just a rumor at this point aimed to bring horses back to Michigan? By the way, I have heard that Ms Granholm’s husband serves on the Casino Control Board – is that not a conflict of interest? Business as usual in Michigan politics.

  7. Kendra Klumpp

    I think we need a facebook page about Michigan Horse Racing —that way we could inform alot of people about the economic impact that horse racing brings to this state—then we need to send a friend request to all those that are running for political office and get their feedback !

  8. mibredclaimer

    Rumors have been going around since the track first opened its doors that a deal might be in the works with one of the tribes. Guess the chatter wasn’t so off-base after all.

    As for the starting date, I don’t think moving it back to June 4 would have as much of an impact on training schedules as it may appear. If I recall, weather and construction-related delays in 2008 pushed back training to the razor’s edge and the fields were decent for opening day. Also, with so many Michigan horsemen stabled at Thistledown, Indiana, Mountaineer, Presque Isle, etc. there is already a halfway decent pool of fit or close-to-fit horses ready to go, assuming they come back to Detroit.

    Well, I have yet to find any other information on the potential deal, and I found the frequent use of the word “indicated” instead of just “said” to be interesting, but I can’t imagine the HBPA flat-out putting words in Campbell’s mouth, so I’d consider it safe to assume there is at least a shred of truth to it.

    A Facebook page might be a useful tool to educate people about the benefits of the racing industry in Michigan, but I have my doubts that it would be effective way to reach current and potential legislators.

    First, it is much easier to hit the “ignore request” button than it is to open an envelope, read enough of a letter to decide they disagree with its position, crumple it up and throw it away. There is little doubt politicians get tons of fan page requests every day, so all that work would easily get lost in the shuffle. Second, it is not out of the realm of possibility to assume many of the politicians’ pages are run by aides and interns. It is hard to say how much would actually reach the right eyes.

    All that said, having a presence on Facebook, be it the HBPA, MTOBA or an independent party, certainly can’t hurt from a public relations/information standpoint.

  9. ragman

    To get things done you need lobbyists with hands full of money which horseracing does not have. It seems as if Campbell may have a chance to stay in business.

    Hazel Park as real estate has no value and when the casino is pronounced dead what will happen??

  10. Longshot

    And Lisa Campbell went berserk that Gary Tinkle had this on the HBPA site. So it has been removed.

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