WHAT THEY ARE SAYING — BELMONT MODERNIZATION: Elected Officials, Organized Labor, and Business Leaders Applaud Governor Hochul for Including Project to Modernize Belmont Park in FY24 Budget Proposal

NEW YORK – Today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her support for the project to modernize Belmont Park, one of the three thoroughbred horse racing tracks operated by the New York Racing Association, Inc (NYRA) and home to the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, and included the project in her FY24 Executive Budget Proposal. This project will upgrade the 117-year-old track, bringing the modern hospitality offerings fans expect while generating $1 billion in construction-related impacts, 3,700 construction jobs, $155 million in annual economic activity, and 740 new full-time jobs. Upgrading Belmont will also secure the future of the sport of horse racing, which sustains 19,000 jobs across the state and a $3 billion annual economic impact.

In response, We Are NY Horse Racing, a coalition of small businesses, labor unions, non-profits, and trade associations aligned to amplify the sport of horse racing’s importance to the New York State economy, released quotes from 19 elected officials, labor unions, and business leaders applauding Governor Hochul for embracing this project:

Elected Officials

“The advancement of the long overdue Belmont racetrack project will improve and transform that iconic sight for generations to come. To be able to witness the creation of thousands of construction and post construction jobs, expand upon an economic generator, while supporting an historic horse racing industry in our state, is an opportunity that I’m pleased to support,” said State Senator Joe Addabbo, Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. “I’m proud that our state has made great strides in protecting our equines, as well as providing credible jobs within the horse racing industry, such as for breeders, trainers and backstretch workers, so that they may be able to support their families. I want to thank Governor Hochul for understanding the critical role horse racing plays in New York and taking a major step forward to secure the sport’s future by including the project to modernize Belmont Park in her Budget Proposal. In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure this project is approved in the final budget.”

“Horse racing is critical to New York State’s economy and I applaud Governor Hochul for recognizing this sport’s immense impact by including the project to modernize Belmont Park in her state budget proposal,” said Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering. “Upgrading Belmont for the first time since the 1960s will secure the future of horse racing in New York State, create thousands of new jobs, and pump over a billion dollars into our state’s economy – all at no cost to taxpayers. NYRA has worked diligently for years to create a project that is a clear win-win for New York, and I will work with my colleagues in the legislature to make sure this project is in the final budget agreement.”

“Belmont Park is a New York State staple, but one that is long past due for critical upgrades. As a Queens representative, I’ve seen first hand how Belmont Park, which sits in my district at the Long Island border, supports our local economy. That is why I am thrilled Governor Hochul included the project to modernize Belmont Park – one that will act as a key economic driver for Queens and the entire state – in her Executive Budget proposal,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie. “This is a testament to the advocates who have worked tirelessly to ensure this project comes to fruition, and I look forward to joining the chorus of voices to ensure a new Belmont Park is approved this year.”

“I am proud to represent Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Springs, and I know the immense impact thoroughbred horse racing has on the regional economy,” said Assemblymember Carrie Woerner. “From farms that grow the hay to the restaurants and hotels enjoyed by race fans each summer, thoroughbred racing creates good paying jobs throughout the Capital Region.  But what many people don’t understand is how interconnected the sport is – the fact is without a strong presence downstate, horse racing’s impact upstate will decline. That’s why I  support modernizing Belmont Park and am excited Governor Hochul included this project in her executive budget proposal. This project will have a tremendous benefit on our state’s tourism and hospitality sectors, protect an agricultural segment, uplift employment, and drive economic activity both on Long Island and in Saratoga County for decades to come.”

Organized Labor

“Our members have seen first hand the urgent need to modernize Belmont Park,” said Richard Brooks, Business Manager, Financial Secretary, and Treasurer of Plumbers Local Union 200. “That’s why we couldn’t be more excited that Governor Hochul has included this project in her executive budget proposal. Not only is this redevelopment long overdue, but it will have tremendous impacts across several industries in New York State – spurring thousands of new union construction jobs and generating economic activity on Long Island and across the state.”

“By including a new Belmont Park in her Executive Budget, Governor Hochul has made it clear that the project to modernize Belmont Park must be a top priority for the state — and we could not agree more,” said Kevin Casey, Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 25. “We are thrilled that this massive project – which will support union jobs on Long Island and act as an economic engine for the entire state – is getting the support it deserves. We’re grateful that NYRA developed a plan to build a new Belmont and that Governor Hochul listened to the chorus of New Yorkers, from organized labor, to small businesses, to farmers, who support this project, and look forward to working with our union brothers and sisters to bring a new Belmont Park to Long Island.”

“Today is a great day for Long Island and for organized labor,” said William N. Lynn, Business Manager and Financial Secretary for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30. “Building a new Belmont Park will create thousands of union construction jobs, ensure a future for the sport of horse racing, and serve as an economic catalyst for Long Island and the rest of New York State. By supporting the modernization of Belmont Park, Governor Hochul has embraced growing New York’s economy — and I urge the legislature to follow her lead and endorse this project.”

“Modernizing Belmont Park will be one of the largest construction projects on Long Island in generations, and that means thousands of new construction jobs for our brothers and sisters in the building and construction trades,” said Anthony Villa, Business Manager and President of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local 290. “Our union has been a proud advocate for this project because we know it will create jobs and boost our economy — Governor Hochul has endorsed building a new Belmont. NYRA has put in the time to make this plan the best possible project for New York, and I urge the Senate and Assembly to ensure a new Belmont Park is included in the final state budget this year.”

Business Leaders

“A strong state starts with a strong economy and culture — and horse racing has been an anchor for both in New York for generations. But to ensure this sport continues to uplift our state, we must modernize Belmont Park on Long Island,” said Heather Briccetti Mulligan, President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “By including the Belmont Park modernization in her executive budget proposal, Governor Hochul has demonstrated her commitment to building an even stronger New York. On behalf of the businesses across the Empire State that will benefit from this project — and the millions of fans like myself who will get to enjoy a new Belmont Park — I thank the Governor for her support and applaud NYRA for putting together such a comprehensive proposal to revitalize Belmont.”

“Modernizing Belmont Park is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the future of horse racing for generations to come, while boosting our economy and creating jobs. That’s why it’s a major priority on Long Island and we commend Governor Hochul for recognizing this project’s importance by including it in her budget,” said Matt Cohen, President and CEO of the Long Island Association. “Thanks to NYRA’s hard work and planning, this project will provide a shot in the arm to the downstate economy, generating approximately $1 billion in one-time construction-related economic impact with hundreds of millions more to come annually. We urge legislators to partner with the Governor and include it in the final budget agreement.”

“On behalf of the hundreds of thoroughbred trainers and owners my organization represents, I want to thank Governor Hochul for including the Belmont Park modernization project in her Executive Budget,” said Joe Appelbaum, President of New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “Belmont Park is more than a sports facility — it is an economic anchor for over 150 horse training small businesses that sustains hundreds of livelihoods. These business owners need to know they can count on Belmont to continue functioning for years to come — and that is exactly what this project does. After decades without necessary upgrades and renovations, thanks to Governor Hochul, we’re now closer than ever before to securing a strong future of horse racing at Belmont.”

“Those of us who live on Long Island know how critical the sport of horse racing is to our regional economy and across the state — but we also recognize that after decades of use, Belmont Park is in desperate need of a revamp,” said Mike Florio CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute. “It’s clear Governor Hochul understands this too, and I applaud her for making modernizing Belmont a priority. NYRA has thoughtfully put together a project that will be good for the entire state’s economy and will generate thousands of construction jobs across Long Island — helping drive our economy to new heights —which is good news for our members and Long Islanders.”

The Queens Chamber of Commerce applauds Governor Hochul for supporting the Belmont modernization project, which will have an immensely positive impact on the entire downstate region,” said Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to NYRA’s hard work and planning, and Governor Hochul’s leadership, we are now one step closer to generating thousands of new, good-paying jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity in Queens and all across the Empire State.”

“Belmont Park may be nearly 200 miles downstate, but here in Saratoga we know just how much our local economies are interconnected,” said Darryl Leggieri, President of Discover Saratoga. “Strengthening Belmont Park is essential to securing a strong future for the sport of horse racing – and that’s good for the entire state’s economy. The sport provides billions of dollars in economic activity, including driving spending at local businesses around Saratoga Race Course like hotels and restaurants while also supporting farms across the state. On behalf of the Saratoga community,  I am incredibly pleased that Governor Hochul has recognized just how vital horse racing is and included the Belmont modernization in her budget proposal.”

“Every year, Saratoga County sees an economic boost from the Summer Meet at the Saratoga Race Course, but this will only continue if there is a strong horse racing ecosystem across the entire state. That means Saratoga’s future is tied to Belmont Park — which is why we are thrilled Governor Hochul included the Belmont Park modernization in her proposed budget,” said Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s clear that revitalizing Belmont Park isn’t just important for communities downstate — this project will have an immense impact in communities across every region of the state. That’s why small business owners, labor unions, and other stakeholders have been making the case to Albany for this project – and  why we’re cheering hard today in the Spa City!”

“Reimagining Belmont Park would secure the future of horse racing in New York State, providing a tremendous boost on Long Island and for the entire downstate economy while supporting the hundreds of New York farms that breed and care for thoroughbred horses,” said Najja Thompson, Executive Director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders. “On behalf of New York’s breeders, owners, and farm workers, I want to thank Governor Hochul for her support in safeguarding horse racing’s future across New York State. A stronger Belmont is a stronger future for all of us, and we look forward to working with our leaders in Albany and our colleagues at NYRA to make this project a success.”

“I have seen firsthand the tremendous benefits the sport of horse racing has generated for my members and their businesses — and that is why we strongly support modernizing Belmont Park and securing the sport’s future for generations to come,” said Luis Vazquez, President and CEO of The Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I want to thank NYRA for shepherding this project forward and Governor Hochul for prioritizing this important economic development project which will create a brighter future for countless Long Islanders and New Yorkers across the state.”

“We applaud Governor Hochul for hearing the voices of organized labor, small business owners, the thousands of New Yorkers who work in the horse racing ecosystem, and the millions of racing fans across the state and taking action to modernize Belmont Park,” said Jack Sterne, Spokesperson for the We Are NY Horse Racing coalition. “Our coalition looks forward to working with Governor Hochul and our partners in the legislature to make sure critical economic development initiative moves forward, and is excited to partner with communities across the state on this important project.”


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.

For additional information, visit www.nyhorseracing.com