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

And they're off...

Eight in race for state's last racino.

 

CLOVIS — Out of eight entities intent on the state's last available racino license, eastern New Mexico has four champing at the bit.

Monday afternoon was the deadline to file letters of intent with the New Mexico Racing Commission, with applications for the state's sixth and final horse-racing and casino license due Aug. 17.

Those letters, obtained by the Eastern New Mexico News through an Inspection of Public Records Act request, show three contenders for a racino in Clovis, two in Raton, and one each for Tucumcari, Lordsburg and Las Vegas.

The lineup was narrowed somewhat in Clovis after Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino did not submit a letter by Monday, though it held a meet-and-greet to gather community input last month.

Among those with eyes on Clovis, NMRC received a letter July 19 from L&M Entertainment, one of the first to publicly state its interest in a racetrack and casino on Clovis' east side as soon as applications opened in early May. Two others submitted their letters July 27, one from Clovis Racetrack and Casino, LLC, of which the majority owner is Shaun Hubbard, and the other from Full House Resorts, of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The latter would also consider an alternate location in the state, such as Tucumcari, Full House's chief development officer said in the notice letter.

"Based on our research and analysis, we believe a new track in the Clovis area would provide the greatest benefits to New Mexico, and in particular to its horse racing industry," wrote Alex Stolyar. "Therefore, we intend to apply for the license in or around the Clovis area. While we believe Clovis to be the best site, should the Racing Commission determine, through its feasibility studies, that an alternate location better serves the interests of the state (e.g. Tucumcari), we reserve the right to apply for a license at that location."

Tucumcari also has an interested applicant through Logan's Coronado Partners, LLC, which stated in a July 23 letter from Managing Member

Tom Krumland that "we have completed our racing application and anticipate completing our gaming application in the near future." previously defaulted on a racino option, was the object of two letters of intent: one dated July 24 from Stephen Vincent, Manager at Vinkay LLC out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and another dated July 27 on a La Mesa letterhead from Michael Moldenhauer.

Of the remaining two letters of intent, one came July 19 "from the City of Las Vegas and Las Vegas San Miguel Economic Development Corporation," with the racino "in the city of Las Vegas working along with LVSMEDC to assist in the application process," the latter's executive director Michael Adams said in a letter. Southwestern New Mexico has a horse in the race, too. Hidalgo Downs, LLC, out of Las Cruces, submitted its letter July 25 for a venue in Lordsburg, with its CEO boasting "a potential market base of over 9,000,000 residents in a 300-mile radius."

Denis Floge said the project "enjoys the support of the vast majority of officials and residents" in Lordsburg and Hidalgo County.

Tom Martin of Vision 2020, promoting a racino for Clovis, told The Eastern New Mexico News on Monday that he attended a special meeting in Albuquerque of NMRC and was interested in seeing what a feasibility study would reveal after the letters of intent were received.

"I was encouraged that they have started the process on doing the feasibility study," he said. "I think it's going to lend credibility to Clovis, but that's my bias."

NMRC Executive Director Izzy Trejo said Monday evening that the feasibility study would look into "the whole gamut" of factors for any given location, including its anticipated economic impact and ability to staff the project. No complete applications had yet been received, but he's expecting some entities to also submit their own such studies.

"We want our own independent, unbiased, third-party study done that is no way connected to any of these (applicants)," he told The News.

Warren Frost, affiliated with Coronado Partners and a longtime advocate of a racino in Tucumcari, said he was glad to see so many entities interested.

"I think it's great. I think the more competition there is the better. It'll make sure that whoever's granted a license is deserving of it. It's best for the state," he said. "The more the merrier."

As to the feasibility study, he added: "We're convinced that Tucumcari is the best location and we're going to prove it to the commission."

Also with Vision 2020, former Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said there would be an "in-depth presentation" at 5:15 p.m. today at the city's Chamber of Commerce.

"We will go over, item-by-item, what some of the negative people are saying, because what we have seen is that there's much more support out there than people against it," she said of a recent online group opposing a Clovis racino. "Frankly, Clovis needs something. We need some economic development."

Brumfield said she was excited to see the progress Monday by NMRC, and that she was confident "Clovis will win out" in a feasibility study.

"It appears to me that we are on the road to get this license done. The racing commission seems to be serious about moving forward," she said. "It looks like the interest is there, and the interest is there, and the interest is really there for Clovis."

 

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