MOONEE Valley Racing Club is close to signing off on a $1 billion redevelopment that will reshape the track into a top night racing venue.
Adrian Dunn, Victoria’s leading racing writer, reports in today’s Herald Sun (another scoop over The Age) that final number crunching of the club's audacious plan is due before the end of the month.We run Dunn’s report, courtesy of the Herald Sun:
‘If, as expected, the figures paint an irresistible picture, a presentation will be put to the club committee's February meeting.
As part of the proposed reconstruction of the site, the MVRC will develop 8 hectares for potential commercial and residential use, which will generate an estimated $1.25 billion.
The restructured Moonee Valley racecourse, scheduled to be operational between 2015 and 2018, would offer a:
NIGHT Cox Plate.
FOUR-TIER grandstand with city skyline views.
CAPACITY to hold crowds of 40,000 comfortably.
NIGHT racing calendar with as many as 30 meetings a year.
TRACK circumference reduced from 1800m to 1670m, but the home straight extended from 173m to 350m;
INCREASED width of the new track from 24m to 32m.
AN INFIELD stabling complex with a tunnel for horses to go to the mounting yard.
Club chief executive Michael Browell said the new track, layout, grandstand and amenities would be sensational.
He dismissed fears the Valley would lose its unique ambience and atmosphere.
"We're actually going to make it more of an amphitheatre," Browell said. "We want to build a world-class night racing venue."
Browell said once the start date was agreed, the Valley would be closed for about 10 months after the Cox Plate and would reopen in September the following year.
He said presentations had been given to the State Government's Department of Planning and Community Development and the Moonee Valley City Council.
Early indications point to the MVRC realising $1.25 billion from the sale of 80,000 square metres.
The expected profit is $200-250 million. With $150 million reinvested in new facilities, it would still leave the club with cash in the bank.
"At this stage the financial viability of the project does stack up," Browell said.
"Everyone who has seen the master plan thinks it is tremendous. We haven't encountered any resistance.
"If we can achieve a world-class racing venue - and I believe we will - as well as having in excess of $50 million in the bank, it is well worth pursuing that."
With Harness Racing Victoria having relocated its headquarters from Moonee Valley to Melton, the trotting track will be demolished after the Hunter Cup meeting on February 6.
The gallops' StrathAyr track is 15 years old and the club is mindful it is due for a major rejuvenation or reconstruction within five to 10 years.
"We think that to go that expense, we'll start with a clean sheet of paper and see what we can build," Browell said.
To those questioning the need for change, Browell said the rebirth of the racecourse would secure the long-term financial future of the club.
He said the prospect of raising additional revenue by selling portions of land was an opportunity too good to ignore.
Unlike Flemington and Caulfield, the MVRC owns its land.
Plans include four residential towers around the existing boundary, with the current front end on to McPherson St sold for commercial, retail and residential development.
Browell said the club's commitment to night racing was unswerving."We want to own Friday night," he said.
The redevelopment of the Valley
1. Sell off the area for residential/commercial development
2. New grandstand
3. Winning post
4. Cox Plate start
5. More racetrack 50m towards freeway
6. Remove harness track
7. Remove 1000m chute and steeplechase track
8. 1200m start
9. 1600m start
STORY COURTESY OF VICTORIA’S LEADING RACING PAPER – THE HERALD SUN