Lookin At Lucky, second from left, ridden by Martin Garcia, wins the Preakness ahead of First Dude, second from right.
Partnership Creates Jobs and Economic Stimulus for Gretna, Florida
Gretna, FL (January 11, 2011) – The Poarch Band of Creek Indians announced a partnership with Florida developer, DavidRomanik, to bring horse racing and a poker facility to the City of Gretna at a project kickoff ceremony attended by Tribal members, elected officials and invited guests today.
The centerpiece facility at the more than 100-acre site will be an equestrian center and Quarter Horse track, just off the I-10 interchange in Gretna. T
he partnership and project will makeGretna a destination for horsemen, spectators, outdoorsmen, poker players, sports enthusiasts and tourists. The new facility is expected to open in winter 2011.
“Gretna is a wonderful community, and it is a privilege to be able to provide jobs here,” noted the Tribe’s Chairman, Buford L. Rolin. He continued, “Our Tribe takes great pride in all of our businesses and the quality of entertainment that they offer. We are excited to see what Creek Entertainment Gretna will mean to the economic well-being of our neighbors in North Florida.”Gretna is a small, rural community nestled in Gadsden County where the median income is $25,000. More than 30% of the population is below the federal poverty line.
“This is a tremendous economic development opportunity for Gretna. It’s also an opportunity for us to become a leader among small, rural communities by bringing the economic and recreational benefits of a horse track and equestrian facility to a region where these activities are extremely popular and will be a catalyst for rural economic development and growth,” said Gretna Mayor Helen Franks.
Florida has the third largest horse population in the nation with 500,000 horses, trailing only California (1 million) and Texas (700,000).
North Florida, and particularly the Red Hills region of North Florida, is an equestrian-rich part of the state.
It is estimated there are between 50,000 and 75,000 horses in the North Florida, South Georgia region.
The new facility is expected to create more than 400 jobs for the community ranging from construction and building contract jobs to hundreds of jobs at the facility once it opens.
“PCI Gaming Authority has embarked upon this endeavor to enable economic stability and stimulus for the City of Gretna and surrounding communities,’’ said Jay Dorris, President and CEO of PCI Gaming Authority. “The planned facility is going to be one with which everyone can be proud. Plans and financing are in place and we will soon be starting construction” Dorris added.
The horse industry is highly diverse and economically significant in the nation and increasingly in Florida.
The Florida horse industry produces $3.0 billion in goods and services annually while the national industry has a $5.2 billion impact on our state’s economy.
These economic benefits do not account for off-site spending by spectators at hotels, restaurants and other businesses surrounding equine facilities and events, which results in an even higher economic impact.
“Horse racing is an integral and popular part of Florida’s equine culture that has thus far been limited to South and Central Florida. Despite the popularity of horses and equestrian activities among residents in North Florida, the region lacks a state-of-the-art equestrian facility or horse track,” said David Romanik, president and CEO of Gretna Racing LLC. “We saw an unmet need in North Florida and wanted to use our expertise and passion for horse racing and equestrian activities to create a gateway community that will become a regional destination in the Red Hills and Big Bend region,” Romanik said. “This partnership with the Poarch Creek Indians and the City of Gretna is making that vision a reality.”
In addition to the equestrian focus, the site will also have a world-class poker room.
Comparable pari-mutuel facilities that host a horse track and poker room draw patrons from a market area that is typically more than a one-hour drive time from the Gretna site.
This facility is a long-overdue entertainment venue and will draw from an estimated 500,000 adults over the age of 18 that is eligible to play poker.
“Creek Entertainment Gretna will not only provide an entertainment venue for the area, it will also provide a ripple effect in terms of economic development for the community,’’ said Keith Martin, Chairman of the Poarch Creek Indians’ Gaming Authority. “Our gaming enterprises support existing businesses in the area and serve as a means for other businesses to start. We are excited about this endeavor and the progressive impact it will have on our neighbors here.”
Currently there are three operating racetrack and poker rooms in Florida.
These facilities employ more than 1,500 full-time employees and generate $5.15 million in state and local taxes for the communities they serve.
“This project will create an innovative public-private partnership that will provide our City with significant economic benefits and opportunities,” Mayor Franks said.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are descendants of a segment of the original Creek Nation, which once covered almost all of Alabama, Georgia and North Florida.
The Tribe owns gaming properties in Alabama including Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, AL, Creek Casino Montgomery in Montgomery, AL and Creek Casino Wetumpka in Wetumpka, AL as well as multiple racetracks in Alabama and Florida.
David Romanik and Gretna Racing have long sought an opportunity to deliver a state-of-the-art equestrian facility and poker room, which embraces the popularity of equestrian activities in the Red Hill region of North Florida.
Mr. Romanik,is an attorney and gaming consultant specializing in horse racing who has served as legal counsel to a number of pari-mutuel interests in recent years and is a former president of Gulfstream Park, where he ran the most successful race meet in the facility’s long history.