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If a proposed feature by a bidder for a new track in New Mexico becomes reality, a day at the races will mix in an amusement park ride.

In a bid led by Las Vegas casino developer and operator Full House Resorts, the proposed La Posada del Llano racino in Clovis, N.M. would include a train-like moving grandstand that would allow racing fans a unique, close look at the horses throughout the entire race.

“Never before attempted, the moving grandstand will accommodate over 100 fans enjoying the most unique horse race spectating in the world,” the proposal says, saying the track will reinvent the way people enjoy horse racing.

The proposal is one of five new racino applications being considered by the New Mexico Racing Commission, which could award a single new license before year’s end. A feasibility study exploring the viability of a sixth racetrack-casino in the state, as well as an analysis of each of the five bids submitted for the license, is being reviewed by the regulator.

Earlier this month New Orleans consulting firm Convergence Strategy Group released its feasibility study on the five bidders. The consultant looked at potential gaming revenue, potential cannibalization of existing New Mexico racino gaming revenue, racing plans, and the potential economic impact of each bid.

New Mexico Racing Commission executive director Izzy Trejo told the Albuquerque Journal that the regulator would decide by Dec. 31 whether or not to award a sixth license and, if one is awarded, to which bidder.

The feasibility study does not make a recommendation on one of the five bidders but does outline the strengths and weaknesses of each plan in the 122-page report. In terms of location, three of the bidders have submitted plans for the Clovis area, one for Lordsburg, and one for Tucumcari.

One of those Clovis bids certainly offers the most unique idea. Following the model of Las Vegas hotels that include unique attractions, the proposal said the La Posada del Llano’s moving grandstand could draw people to the track for live racing.

The proposed La Posada del Llano track in New Mexico would include a moving grandstand
Photo: Courtesy of La Posada del Llano/Full House Resorts

The proposed La Posada del Llano track in New Mexico would include a moving grandstand

The proposal says the moving grandstand is modeled off a train that moved with competing rowers, allowing spectators to stay close to the action during the Poughkeepsie Regatta on the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

“We want to provide the same experience for horse racing fans. Race side-by-side with the horses on our moving grandstand,” the proposal says. “We are developing the moving grandstand to follow right alongside the horses on the track. We are creating an innovative grandstand to put fans horse-side.”

The feasibility study didn’t move full speed ahead on the idea, saying the moving grandstand idea is intriguing but likely doesn’t make sense from a cost and safety standpoint. That said, the feasibility study noted that the La Posada del Llano proposal did offer the largest number of potential stalls and races, best potential for purses, and flexibility in race dates and a willingness to work with horsemen. 

The proposal also said it would try to conduct races every 15 minutes instead of the typical standard of about every half-hour.

Some feasibility study assessments for the other four bids include:

•    Curry Downs in Clovis: The study said the proposal features good flexibility in race dates but questioned the feasibility of a proposed turf course, which would be a first in the state.

•    Clovis Racetrack and Casino in Clovis: The study said the proposed 36 race dates seemed low.

•    Hidalgo Downs in Lordsburg: The study said a proposal to offer six races a day over 60 dates may be too spread out to be a good fit for horsemen, especially considering the remote location. That location also could negatively impact live and simulcast handle.

•    Coronado Park in Tucumcari: Study noted that the Tucumcari area is strongly in favor of adding a track and while the casino and track revenues might not be as high as a Clovis location, its proximity to Interstate 40, Amarillo, Texas, and being a greater distance away from other existing tracks could be of benefit. 

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