The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Racino contender says he wants community input


June 29, 2018

David Grieder

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino General Manager Rick Baugh, far right, speaks Thursday morning with gathered community members during a meet-and-greet about the group's proposed racino bid.

CLOVIS — With just over a month left to apply for the state's sixth and final racino license, Clovis heard Thursday morning from the most recently-declared contender for a racetrack and casino project in the city.

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino General Manager Rick Baugh said during a meet-and-greet reception at the Norman and Vi Petty Rock & Roll Museum that officials were interested in bringing quarter-horse racing to one of a few locations being considered in Clovis.

Baugh declined to say in more detail which locations were under consideration and noted the application was still yet to be submitted, emphasizing how talks in the coming days with Clovis citizens would go a long way to inform how the project shapes up.

"We need to hear from you. We don't know Clovis like you," he told an audience that included city commissioners. "We think we've got the ideal situation (in Clovis)."

In addition to a robust security staff, Baugh said the establishment would maintain a chaplaincy and seek to develop relations with churches and businesses in the community.

"We don't want to come in and cannibalize on what's already here," he said. "We want to work with the community."

To that end, Baugh said the racino would be willing to help cross-promote programming such as concerts in the town and would collaborate locally on utilizing the projected 1,000 horse stalls during off-seasons.

Baugh forecasted at least 160 acres for the racino site, tentatively titled "Legacy Park." He forecasted the construction, which would be completed around 2020, to bring 750 jobs, and Sunland's marketing Ddrector expected a project cost of at least $70 million dollars with 300 to 500 local jobs when in operation.

"The Fulton family is excited to put a bid in for the area of Clovis," said Ethan Linder, referring to Sunland Park's private owners. Liz Fulton Jones was present at the meet and greet Thursday morning in Clovis, introducing Baugh.

"We have now met with three different racino groups," said Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos, referring to meetings in recent weeks with Laguna Development Corp. and Shaun Hubbard, who is leading a group to bring a racino to the east part of the city. "We're usually in the business of recruiting business and industry. It's different (now) because Clovis is a hot spot and they're trying to recruit us."

There is at least one other proposed racino in eastern New Mexico, on a 330-acre site in Tucumcari. Warren Frost, speaking for a group leading that effort, said the project would bring about 300 full-time jobs and up to 150 more during racing season.


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